The State government will conduct re-survey and identify manual scavengers across the State, in an effort to eradicate the practice completely, said Rakesh Kumar K., Commissioner for the Social Welfare Department.
Speaking at a two-day State-level workshop on ‘Strengthening of rehabilitation schemes for identified manual scavengers’, which was jointly organised by the Department of Social Welfare and Center for the Study of Marginalized Communities at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, on Wednesday, he said, “Including Ballari and Yadgir, 10 districts have reported that there are no manual scavengers in their district limits. However, since manual scavenging is a criminal offence and concerned district officers can be punished in connection with it, for the fear of punishment, many district officers are hiding the data and have declared their districts as a manual scavenger-free districts. Therefore, a re-survey of manual scavengers is needed.”
“Despite the complete abolition of manual scavenging in the State, it is still in existence in some districts. There is no 100% underground drainage (UGD) system in the State. Most of the latrines are connected to the open drainage and this is cleaned manually,” he said.
He said that the first survey has identified a total of 7,493 manual scavengers in the State. A committee headed by the Principal Secretary of the Department has already given approval to this list. “In the coming days, we will present this list to the high-level committee headed by the Social Welfare Minister for final approval. Then we will implement the rehabilitation programmes,” he explained. Rehabilitation includes many things including alternative employment, loans, ₹40,000 one-time cash, skill development schemes, agricultural land and so on.
“The government has reserved 5% seats for manual scavengers’ children in all the government residential schools. The government has given direct admission for these children without any entrance tests in the residential schools. We have also taken an initiative and ordered for priority-based admission in private schools for the children of manual scavengers, slum dweller and workers in graveyards,” he said. Under Prabhudha scheme, the department will send manual scavengers’ children to foreign universities for higher studies too, Mr. Rakesh Kumar explained.
R.V. Chandrashekar, Assistant Professor at the Center for the Study of Marginalized Communities at NLSIU, demanded a separate Budget allocation, various skill development programmes, residential quarters, and technical training for manual scavengers.