The Bombay high court recently issued notices to the state government and others in a public interest litigation seeking to eradicate manual scavenging in the state, especially in Pandharpur district.
The petition filed by Campaign Against Manual Scavenging in Maharashtra through its chairman Sandeep Jedhe has sought for the implementation of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993.
The petition filed through advocate Asim Sarode states that the degrading system of manual scavenging is in place even in some parts of Pune and Nagpur, Parbhani, Solapur and Paithan.
The practice is particularly common in Pandharpur, the petitioners said, and they also placed on record video documentation to support this claim. One of the reasons for this is the inflow of pilgrims into the area, which puts a great strain on the sanitary infrastructure, a problem yet to be addressed by the Pandharpur Municipal Council.
The court has issued notices and the matter is set to come up for hearing on July 27.
According to an RTI application reply received by the petitioners last year, the state government had granted Rs one crore — later increased to two crores — to the PMP during the Pandharpur Yatra.
The petitioner points out that “it is not impossible to maintain cleanliness using various techniques and machines, but the government were appointing men and women as scavengers without even trying to adopt other methods.”