The government’s much-publicised national scheme for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers is unlikely to serve its purpose, as all beneficiaries of loans for alternative professions are automatically being counted as rehabilitated without proper monitoring.
The scheme envisages both loans and training for rehabilitation, for which states supply a list of intended beneficiaries to the Centre. Loans are then extended to these people through state channelising agencies of apex bodies like the National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation. The amount ranges from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000, half of which is a grant and the remaining carries interest liability. This amount can theoretically go up to Rs 5 lakh, but the interest-free grant cannot cross Rs 20,000 in any case, sources say.
“The stated aim is to rehabilitate these people through loans and training. Small amounts are being extended to these people for things like buying a goat. If anyone thinks this is rehabilitation, I can only say the claim is bogus. None can have a sustaining alternative profession through such amounts. The ‘beneficiaries’ continue to remain scavengers but are counted as rehabilitated on the ground that they have got some financial assistance. All figures being quoted by the government are thus meaningless,” said Mange Lal Arya, member of the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
All India Safai Mazdoor Congress organising secretary Girendra Nath told HT rehabilitation is possible only through better training and effective monitoring.