Question : Manual Scavengers

(a) whether there are reports of deaths of sanitation workers despite the fact that manual scavenging is prohibited by law in the country;

(b) if so, the facts thereof and the action taken to take the manual scavenging work from sanitation workers;

(c) whether the socio-economic and caste census of 2011 had identified 1,80,657 households of manual scavengers across the country;

(d) if so, whether the working conditions of these sanitation workers have remained virtually unchanged over the years;

(e) if so, the reasons therefor and the response of the Government thereon; and

(f) the steps taken by the Government to do away with manual scavenging by taking lessons from other professions that are modernizing themselves with the infusion of technology and skills?

Answer given by the minister


(a) and (b): There has been no report of death of sanitation workers due to manual scavenging. However, there have been reports of death of persons while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Details of such cases reported by the States are at Annexure.
Manual scavenging is prohibited under "Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013” (MS Act, 2013) from 06.12.2013, the date of coming into force of the Act. This Act also provides for identification of insanitary latrines and their conversion into sanitary latrines by local authorities so as to eliminate the need for manual cleaning of human excreta from insanitary latrines. Ministries of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Housing & Urban Affairs under Swachh Bharat Mission provide assistance to the States and Union Territories for conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines in rural and urban areas respectively.
(c): As per data published on the website of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC-2011), 168066 persons have declared manual scavenging as their occupation as on 07.12.2018.
(d) and (e) Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing a Central Sector Scheme, ‘Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of manual Scavengers’ (SRMS) under which identified manual scavengers and their dependents are provided the following rehabilitation benefits to liberate them from manual scavenging:
(i) Onetime cash assistance of Rs.40,000/- to the identified manual scavenger.

(ii) Skill Development Training with Stipend of Rs.3,000/- per month for the training period upto two years or less for the identified manual scavenger/dependent family member.

(iii) Loans upto Rs. 15 lakh for income generating activities with capital subsidy upto Rs. 3,25,000/- are provided to the identified manual scavenger/dependent family members at concessional rate of interest of 5% per annum (4% for women) for projects upto Rs.25000/- and at the rate of 6% per annum for projects above Rs.25000/-.

Details of the benefits provided to the identified manual scavengers and their dependents from 2013-14 upto 30.11.2018 are as under:
Rehabilitation benefits Number of Beneficiaries
Onetime cash assistance to identified manual scavengers including those identified under National Survey. 24,853
Skill Development Training to identified manual scavengers and dependents. 13,587
Capital Subsidy to identified manual scavengers and dependents who have availed loans. 955

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is also implementing a Scheme titled “Pre-Matric Scholarship scheme to the Children of those engaged in occupations involving cleaning and prone to health hazards”. Children of manual scavengers are also eligible for this scholarship.
(f): National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) in coordination with Skill Council Green Jobs organizes training of 35 hours duration on usage of mechanized sanitation equipment, precautions for hazards cleaning, life skills and income generation activities to sanitation workers employed contractually or on ad hoc basis by municipalities.
NSKFDC also organizes workshops in municipalities for engineers, sanitary inspectors, sanitary workers and contractors on safe cleaning of sewers and septic tanks and also create awareness about the provisions of “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013” (MS Act, 2013) and “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013” (MS Rules, 2013) regarding employer’s obligations to provide safety gear/equipment and ensure safety precautions.


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