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NHRC Says States Lying About Ending Manual Scavenging, Recommends Strict Action

by Sidharth Pandey 4 months ago Views 2654

“Many states make tall claims that they have zero manual scavengers and nil insanitary latrines but these are far from the truth. Therefore, the Commission has recommended that accountability must be fixed in case of wrong reporting by the concerned authorities about the number of manual scavengers in any region of the country.” the NHRC said.

States Lying About Ending Manual Scavenging, Says
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) held that the claims of zero manual scavenging being made by States are "far from the truth". The Commission also recommended strict action against relevant authorities for wrong reporting of the facts.

These facts emerged after an exhaustive workshop of various stakeholders including states and NGOs organised by the Human Rights Commission where facts emerged contrary to what was being claimed by the state authorities in December last year.


“Many states make tall claims that they have zero manual scavengers and nil insanitary latrines but these are far from the truth. Therefore, the Commission has recommended that accountability must be fixed in case of wrong reporting by the concerned authorities about the number of manual scavengers in any region of the country.” the NHRC said.

‘Manual Scavenging’ refers to the practice of manually carrying human excreta. While in the past this referred to manually removing human waste from dry latrines not connected to a sewage network, it was later expanded to also include manual and unsafe cleaning of sewage lines, septic pits and drains.

Describing manual scavenging ‘a blot on the country’, Justice PC Pant, NHRC member who had chaired the regional workshop on issues and challenges of Manual Scavenging & Human Rights in December last year compared manual scavenging to a ‘contemporary form of slavery’.

The Commission has also shared a set of recommendations with various ministries of the central government which include enhancing the one-time compensation to be paid to manual scavengers from the present Rs 40,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The Commission also wants the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to monitor sewer deaths and data.

NHRC Secretary-General, Bimbadhar Pradhan, has also called on the need to make necessary changes in legislation to end the practice of manual scavenging and for the upliftment of those still involved in the practice.

Manual scavenging was banned in 1993 and the law was subsequently strengthened and expanded further in 2013 with the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act but this has still not ended the practice of manual scavenging.

Many experts are of the view that along with protection of the rights of those who are asked to clean drains and latrines which have often led to their deaths from noxious gasses particularly in deep sewer drains, there needs to be a legal obligation on states and government authorities to provide proper and safe sewage systems to citizens so as to end the need for manual scavengers.

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