Seeking to benefit about 40 lakh scavengers and their family members, the Government proposes to introduce a new Central scheme for their rehabilitation.
The 'Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers' will be implemented as a national priority by March 2009, official sources said.
Under the scheme, identified scavengers and their dependents will be provided subsidy and loan for undertaking self-employment ventures.
Beneficiaries will also be provided training upto one year for skill development.
As per survey reports from states, there are 7,70,338 scavengers and their dependents in the country.
The Government defines scavengers as one who is partially or wholly engaged in the obnoxious and inhuman occupation of manually removing night soil and filth.
The scheme envisages providing training, loan and subsidy to identified scavengers, who will get credit from banks, which will charge interest at the rates presecribed under the scheme.
The National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) or any other identified agency at the apex level will provide interest subsidy to banks through its State Chanelising Agencies or any other identified agency at the State level for the difference between the interest chargeable by bank and the interest to be charged from the beneficiaries under the scheme.
Micro-financing will also be done through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and reputed Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The period of repayment of loan will be three years for projects upto Rs 25,000 and five years for projects above Rs 25,000 and the moratorium period to start the repayment of loan will be six months.
The beneficiaries will be allowed to avail of second and subsequent loan from banks if required, without capital subsidy and interest subsidy and other grants under the scheme.
NSKFDC or any other agency identified under the scheme will undertake all activities under the scheme and will coordinate with the concerned agencies to ensure optimum benefits.
While at the national level, the scheme is proposed to be implemented through NSKFDC or other ideitified agencies, at the State level it will be done by government agencies and reported NGOs.
The progress of the implementation will be monitored by NSKFDC and other apex level agencies identified for the purpose.
The scheme is proposed to be linked with the programme of conversion of dry latrines in coordination with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and municipal bodies at the state and local levels.