Delhi, which has a high per capita income, also has a population that scavenges for a living.
In all, there are 1,282 people working as manual scavengers in the Capital, says a survey by Delhi University’s Delhi School of Social Work, seen as one of the most degrading professions and an affront to human dignity. The survey was done on behalf of the state government.
"Scavenging in the national Capital is done in various ways," says the survey. In 86 per cent cases, the scavengers use bare hands to clean colony drain. In some cases, cart is used to carry the filth.
In what should be a welcome finding, the survey found “almost an absence” of scavengers carrying night soil as headload. It, however, did not rule out the possibility of the presence of such people.
Moreover, the “practice of emptying container carrying filth in bigger drains is a demeaning practice, which raises concern,” the report said.
And women constitute 80 per cent of the total scavenging population of the city. The areas where this practice takes place are Karawal Nagar, Old Seelampur, Shahdara, Naveen Shahdara, Gandhi Nagar, Nand Nagri, Babarpur, Maujpur, all in east Delhi.
The survey also found that with approximately 20.7 dry latrines being served by one scavenger on an average in one day, it could be deducted that Delhi presently has approximately 26,537 dry latrines.
Acting on the report, the Delhi Cabinet has now decided to implement the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 in all areas covered under the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
“We have initiated steps for the rehabilitation of the manual scavengers through the Delhi Scheduled Caste Financial Development Corporation,” said Rajkumar Chauhan, minister for Development and the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Chauhan claimed the government was committed to end the practice of manual scavenging and provide employment opportunities to such people.