Despite extension, no appointments made to National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

The posts of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members remain vacant

September 19, 2022 12:12 am | Updated 01:58 pm IST - CHENNAI

A manual scavenger at work in Taramani, Chennai. Representational image. File

A manual scavenger at work in Taramani, Chennai. Representational image. File | Photo Credit: M. KARUNAKARAN

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis has largely remained non-functional for nearly six months as the Union government has not appointed Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members, despite extending its tenure.

The tenure of the commission, a non-statutory body tasked with helping the government in various tasks concerning the welfare of those involved in manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning, was about to end on March 31, 2022. However, in January, the Union Cabinet decided to extend its tenure by another three years till March 31, 2025, on a budget outlay of ₹43.68 crore.

As per provisions, the commission is headed by a chairman. It included a vice-chairman and five more persons as members. Since April, the commission is functioning without any of them, except for the officials appointed to aid the chairman and members.

The routine activities of the commission included conducting review meetings at the State and district levels and in public sector undertakings, redress of complaints, and monitoring of the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

A former member of the commission said all these activities have been affected in the past six months. “Though the NCSK did not have powers similar to statutory bodies like the National Commission for Scheduled Castes or the National Human Rights Commission, periodic reviews meant that officials gave importance to our issues,” he said.

In case of death while cleaning septic tanks, he said the functioning of the commission ensured that the victims’ families received the compensation they were eligible to and cases were filed against those responsible.

Highlighting that the deaths due to manual scavenging seemed to be on the rise instead of coming down, D.V. Samuel, convener (Tamil Nadu), Safai Karamchari Andolan, said the Union government should immediately fill all the vacant posts. More importantly, effective functioning of the commission to fulfil its tasks should also be ensured.

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