Despite noting that just 520 districts across the country had declared themselves free of manual scavenging, the Central Monitoring Committee (CMC) of the Social Justice Ministry concluded in its eighth meeting on July 5, 2023 that all unsanitary latrines had been made sanitary under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and that the problem of manual scavenging is eliminated.
In the meeting of the CMC chaired by Social Justice Minister Virendra Kumar, representatives of all States and Union Territories participated along with representatives of the Safai Karamcharis Commission and reviewed the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
The CMC reviewed the functioning of the Swachhata Abhiyaan mobile app, which was launched to report instances of manual scavenging in real time.
“The committee noted with satisfaction that every alleged such instance uploaded on the app over the past 3 years had been individually investigated and no evidence of the existence of any insanitary latrines or manual scavenging were found,” a government statement said on Wednesday.
As for the districts that are yet to declare themselves free of manual scavenging, the CMC suggested to follow up with them.
A month ago, the Social Justice Ministry had said 508 districts had declared themselves manual scavenging-free.
The committee went on to note that immediate next focus of administrations should be to ensure zero deaths due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, for which an integrated scheme — the NAMASTE scheme — has been launched. It said, “such instances have been falling.”
The government has for the last few years insisted that manual scavenging no longer exists in the country and has made a distinction between such instances and deaths due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
The Social Justice Ministry had said in December 2022 that 48 people had died due to hazardous cleaning of sewers in 2022. This number was 49 in 2021, 19 in 2020, and 117 in 2019.