इंडियन आवाज़     29 Nov 2023 08:45:25      انڈین آواز

Manual scavenging to be eliminated soon: PM

Speaking at the inaugural session of the conference of the state ministers of Welfare and Social Justice, Dr. Singh said that the conversion of dry latrines must be completed once and for all.

“Today, I would like you to pledge that this scourge will be eliminated from every corner of our country in the next six months. The conversion of dry latrines must be completed once and for all,” he said.

Referring to a recent advisory of Home Ministry which makes employing any SC or ST person as a manual scavenger punishable under section 3 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, he urged state governments to make full use of the provisions of this “strong and prohibitive” instrument.

The call came amid serious concerns over the failure to end the practice. The National Advisory Council has sought a fresh law to deal with the issue. The council said that demolition of dry latrines was a must and should be achieved in six months.

Manual scavenging is the degrading and illegal task of cleaning human excrement from India’s roads and dry latrines. Using little more than a broom, a tin plate, and a basket, they are made to clear feces from public and private latrines and carry them to dumping grounds and disposal sites.

This is mainly a hereditary occupation reserved for Dalits. Dalit manual scavengers (known as Bhangis or Valmikis, among other caste names) are compelled to undertake their task, often being prevented from taking any other job. They are the worst victims of untouchability as they are considered unclean, impure and placed at the lowest level of the caste hierarchy.

Even other Dalits often consider them as untouchables. Manual scavengers, or safai karmacharis, are considered to be the most oppressed and disadvantaged of any community in India. The practice has been long outlawed; however, it continues today in most states.

According to report by Safai karmachari Andolan there were 600,000 scavengers in 1989 while by 1995-96 the number had increased to 787,000 (a 31.6 % increase in less than a decade). Similarly, there were 720,500,000 dry latrines in 1989, but by January 2000 the number had increased by 9,600,000. With the increase of urbanization, manual scavenging is increasing.

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