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‘Manual scavenging law not implemented effectively’

Delhi govt to launch scheme to rehabilitate manual scavengers and their families

September 25, 2018 01:30 am | Updated 01:30 am IST - NEW DELHI

 During the first meeting of the State Monitoring Committee on the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation was held at the Secretariat on Monday.

During the first meeting of the State Monitoring Committee on the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation was held at the Secretariat on Monday.

Following two incidents of workers dying after being forced to clean sewage tanks in the city, Delhi’s State Monitoring Committee set up under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, held its first meeting on Monday.

The committee, which was formed nine months ago and is chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, is supposed to meet at least once in six months, as the Act mandates, Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said at a press conference after the meeting.

Conduct inquiry

“The Chief Minister has asked me to conduct an inquiry into the delay in conducting the first meeting of the committee and to submit the report within a week,” Mr. Gautam said.

While manual scavenging has been banned, there have been a spate of incidents where workers have been made to enter sewage tanks, leading to their deaths due to the toxic gases.

Just this September, five workers died after cleaning the tank at a sewage treatment plant at DLF Capital Greens in Moti Nagar and another worker died cleaning a sewer pit in Dabri.

“It is evident that death of manual scavengers have not been stopped despite the ban on the hazardous practice of incidents of manual cleaning of sewers or septic tanks. It is viewed that since the formation of Prohibition of Manual Scavengers Act 2013, it has not been implemented effectively [sic],” a statement from Mr. Gautam’s office said.

Survey findings

Mr. Gautam added that the instructions had been issued to all District Magistrates to complete the survey on the number of persons engaged in manual scavenging, as the Act mandates.

He added that three DMs had presented their survey findings during the meeting, stating that 45 people had been identified as engaged in manual scavenging.

These 45 people would be given training and jobs with Civil Defence, the Minister said.

New machines

In addition, instructions were issued to the SC/ST Department to come up with a scheme to rehabilitate manual scavengers and their families within a week, the statement said.

Mr. Gautam added that the government’s standard operating procedure (SOP) for cleaning of sewage tanks, with an emphasis on mechanisation, would be notified soon.

He added that the Delhi Jal Board would be getting 200 machines for sewer cleaning within two months.

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