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A pile of manual scavengers? woes

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 10:33 IST
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KAMINI’S DREAMS were shattered when, after marriage, her in-laws asked her to take up the job of removing night soil in the nearby locality. However, she refused to budge before family job of her in-laws. In return, she was subjected to physical assault. A Dalit manual scavenger, Kamini is one of several thousands still involved in undignified work.

Manual scavenging, a work, involving removing of human and animal excreta, using brooms, small tin plates and baskets usually carried on the head. Manual scavengers from 11 districts of UP gathered at Gandhi Bhawan here on Tuesday, on completion of three years of Garima Abhiyan, run by Action Aid to encourage people to leave the undignified work and go for other job alternatives.

On the Legal aspect, cleaning of dry latrines, which are not connected to a sewer line and transporting of human excreta is banned since 1993 under the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993. The employment of scavengers or the construction of dry latrines can result in imprisonment up to one year and /or a fine of Rs 2,000.
Yet manual scavenging continues.

In the absence of an alternative, it was often seen that manual scavengers were not able to quit manual scavenging, said Dev Kant, State Co-ordinator of the Garima Abhiyan. Under the campaign, a total of 2,000 manual scavengers were identified. Out of which, 1300 people were freed from this work and were rehabilitated in alternative works, claimed Dev Kant.