One conviction for unsafe sewer cleaning so far, House panel raps government

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Source: The post is based on the article “One conviction for unsafe sewer cleaning so far, House panel raps government” published in The Hindu on 24th March 2023

What is the News?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment in a report has said that the implementation of the Manual Scavenging (Prohibition) Act must be done strictly and that errant contractors should be “immediately held and convicted”.

What is Manual Scavenging?

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Deaths due to Manual Scavenging: A total of 1,035 people had died in India due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks since 1993.

Families of 836 victims have been given the full compensation of ₹10 lahks as mandated by the Supreme Court. In addition, families of 112 victims have received a little less than ₹10 lakh as compensation. 

What is Manual Scavenging (Prohibition) Act?

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Conviction rate under Manual Scavenging act: 616 FIRs have been registered under Manual Scavenging (Prohibition) Act where contractors had not provided safety gear and equipment to sewer workers. Among these cases registered, only one conviction has been secured so far.

About the Parliamentary committee report on Manual Scavenging

On low conviction rate under Manual Scavenging (Prohibition) Act: The Committee said that norms with regard to penalty and conviction for engaging sewer and septic workers by the Contractors are strictly implemented so that the Contractors are immediately held and convicted for any violation of norms.

On NAMASTE Scheme: The committee said that the scheme had been envisioned for a FY 2023-24 start and for this, the completion of the enumeration work is necessary. 

– On this, the Government informed the panel that they intend to count the number of such workers in over 4,800 Urban Local Body areas and profile them before starting the implementation of the scheme. 

– For this, the committee said that the Union government needs to push State and Union Territory governments to finish data collection on sewer workers as soon as possible and also encourage the governments to start setting up Responsible Sanitation Authorities and Emergency Sanitation Response Units so that targets can be set and achieved as envisioned. 

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