National

88 manual scavenging deaths in 3 years

T.N., Gujarat lead list; toll could be higher as many States do not report incidents

The number of deaths of sanitation workers while cleaning septic tanks and sewers has risen, despite a ban on manual scavenging, with 620 cases reported since 1993, of which 88 occurred in the past three years, according to the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. To a question by MPs Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiaz Jaleel on Tuesday, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister of State Ramdas Athawale told the Lok Sabha that compensation had been given in 445 cases, partial settlement in 58 cases, while 117 cases were pending.

In 445 cases the full amount had been paid, while partial compensation had been given in 58 cases, the reply said. Of the 15 States and Union Territories that submitted details to the Ministry, Tamil Nadu had the highest number of sewer deaths with 144 cases, followed by Gujarat with 131. Of the 88 cases reported in 2017, 2018 and 2019, till June 14, compensation was pending in 52 cases.

88 manual scavenging deaths in 3 years
 

The MPs had questioned the government over whether it planned on amending the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in order to make it mandatory for States to report such cases. In response, the Minister said the Act had laid down a mechanism of monitoring its implementation through vigilance committees and monitoring committees at different levels, so there was “no proposal” to amend it as of now. On the data of 15 States and Union Territories, a senior official said “some States had not reported and some had reported nil”, leading to the possibility of the actual deaths from manual scavenging being higher. A Supreme Court order from March 27, 2014 makes it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewerage work since 1993 and provide ₹10 lakh each as compensation to their families.

In another reply to a question by MP Vishnu Dayal Ram, the minister told the Lok Sabha that 53,598 manual scavengers had been identified from December 6, 2013 till June 30, 2019. While the Act says no one can employ a person for manual scavenging and lays down punishments for those who do, the minister said “there have been no reports from any state/Union Territory regarding conviction in such cases”.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2020 10:51:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/88-manual-scavenging-deaths-in-3-years/article28336989.ece

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