“6th Meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee to review the implementation of the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013” (MS Act, 2013)” held here today under the chairmanship of Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. Ram Das Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and Smt. Neelam Sawhney, Secretary of the Ministry were present. The meeting was also attended by the Vice Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Chairman, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Non-official members of the Committee, representatives from the Central Ministries/Departments and the State Governments / Union Territory administrations and Social Workers working for the welfare of manual scavengers/sanitation workers.
Addressing on the occasion, Thaawarchand Gehlot said that the Government is keen to eradicate the manual scavenging on a time bound basis for which the State Governments have been urged to implement the provisions of the MS Act, 2013 in letter and spirit. This important Central Act was enacted by the Parliament in September, 2013 and has come into force in December, 2014. It aims at complete elimination of the manual scavenging in its various manifestations and comprehensive rehabilitation of the identified manual scavengers.
He said that 13,657 manual scavengers have, so far, been identified in 13 States. However, keeping in view the large number of insanitary latrines replaced in house listing and household data of Census-2011, the States have been asked to revisit their survey by using the wider definition of manual scavenging as given in the MS Act, 2013 to ensure that all the persons who are cleaning un-decomposed septage manually are identified and listed as manual scavengers.
The Minister said that Government is implementing a Self- Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of identified manual scavengers under which onetime cash assistance, skill development training and loan subsidy are provided for rehabilitation of identified manual scavengers onetime cash assistance of Rs.40000/- each has been released to 12991 identified manual scavengers till date. Proposals for skill development training for 13587 manual scavengers and their dependents and self-employment proposals for 944 manual scavengers and their dependents have been sanctioned.
He said that a Task Force was constituted for carrying out a National Survey of manual scavengers in 170 identified Districts of 18 States. National Survey has been completed in 163 of the 170 identified districts. 50,644 persons have registered in the camps up to 01.10.2018, of which claims of 20,596 persons have been accepted after identification and subsequent verification as manual scavengers. Data of the identified manual scavengers is being digitized in National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC) and data of 11,757 manual scavengers has been digitized up to 01.10.2018. Onetime cash assistance has been released to 8438 identified manual scavengers.
NSKFDC has held number of awareness camps to motivate the manual scavengers and their dependents to undertake skill development training so that they are suitably equipped for employment on sustainable basis or start their self-employment ventures.
Though hazardous cleaning of septic tanks is prohibited under the MS Act, 2013, a number of septic tanks related deaths have been reported from time to time. Such cases are taken up with the concerned State Government for payment of compensation of Rs.10 lakhs as per Supreme Court orders. The States have been urged to take steps for total mechanization of septic tanks and sewers to prevent such deaths.
Ministry of Labour has also advised the State to carry out a special inspection drives to identify and prosecute employers and contractors who are violating the provision of Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and MS Act, 2013 and forcing workmen to do manual scavenging.
The Committee has recommended simplification of the survey guidelines to fast track identification of manual scavengers.