‘Manual scavenging exists despite enactment of Act’

Legal awareness programme for conservancy workers under way in Madurai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, was enacted not only to abolish the practice of employing anyone as a manual scavenger, but also for the rehabilitation of such workers. But there was no proper implementation of the provisions of the Act, said advocate Sahaya Philomin Raj.

Mr. Philomin Raj of Madurai Legal Awareness Coordination Committee was speaking at the State- level consultation meeting on implementation of the Act here on Saturday. He said awareness must be created among workers on the Act’s provisions since the governments had failed to do so.

Even police and corporation officials need sensitisation on the issue. Whenever there was a complaint from workers on ill-treatment meted out to them, the officials ridiculed them.

The governments have not allocated sufficient funds for their rehabilitation, he added.

Manual scavenging still exists, said Paul Mike of IDEAS. The claim that manual scavenging does not exist is not true and most of these workers are engaged on a temporary basis on daily wages, he said.

Aloysius Irudayam of IDEAS said the mindset of people must change and the common man should also be sensitised on the plight of these workers.

Advocate R. Karunanidhi who had filed a public interest litigation petition in 2017 to identify and rehabilitate manual scavengers in Madurai and Virudhunagar stressed the need for a separate bench like that of the Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court to hear the cases pertaining to the Act. There was a need for continuous mandamus, he said.

Though the Act was clear, there was no proper implementation of its provisions, reiterated advocate K.K. Samy. The welfare measures have to reach the people. Conservancy workers from across the State participated in the day-long programme. They shared the various problems and issues they faced during the course of their employment.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 7:20:26 AM |

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