The government said on Thursday that it intends to introduce in the monsoon session of parliament a new bill on prohibition of manual scavenging in view of the infirmities in the existing law.
Speaking at the national workshop on "Total Eradication of Manual Scavenging and Dignified Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers" in New Delhi, social justice and empowerment minister Mukul Wasnik said the implementation of the existing law dealing with manual scavenging had been weak and not a single person had been convicted under it.
The government had enacted the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 to deal with the problem of manual scavenging.
Wasnik said the National Advisory Council (NAC) had recommended that a new law may be enacted as the issue of manual scavenging pertained to "human dignity" and not "sanitation".
He said a new bill "Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012" had been prepared and a consultation meeting will be held later this month to discuss it.
"We intend to introduce this bill in the monsoon session of parliament," the minister said.
Referring to the steps taken by the government to end manual scavenging, he said voluntary organisations had brought it to the notice of the government that people were still engaged in the cruel practice.
"We have taken up the matter with the state governments," the minister said.
He said the Houselisting and Housing Census 2011 data on various types of latrines was "quite disturbing".
Wasnik said the data revealed that there were 13.14 lakh households with latrines from which night-soil was disposed into the open drain and about 13 lakh households with service latrines in which the night-soil was removed by humans or "serviced by animals".
"In total there are 26 lakh insanitary latrines in the country. Data on manual scavengers in the rural areas would be available soon, from the Socio Economic and Caste Census, 2011," he said.
He said a committee had been constituted to build on the data available in finalising the methodology for survey of manual scavengers. The committee is expected to give its report by the end of this month, he added.