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Centre blames states for deaths of manual scavengers, lapses in rehabilitation

The Centre asked the states to expand the definition of manual scavenger and include those who clean human waste from open drains and along railway tracks in the list. 

india Updated: Aug 31, 2017 13:31 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Manual Scavengers,Delhi sewer deaths,Sanitation workers
As per government data, there are 13,368 manual scavengers in the country across 13 states. (File)

The Centre on Wednesday held states responsible for lapses in monitoring and rehabilitation of manual scavengers. It said in the absence of data on people involved in the hazardous industry, there are gaps in the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and ensuring precautions for their safety.

The Centre also asked the states to expand the definition of manual scavenger and include those who clean human waste from open drains and along railway tracks in the list.

The directive to first identify and then compensate the manual scavengers, especially the families of those who died while cleaning septic tanks or sewers, comes on the heels recent incidents that left 10 sanitation workers dead in Delhi.

Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot put the onus on the states for failing to provide the correct information about manual scavengers.

At a consultative meeting with national commission and state commissions of safai karamcharis, and representatives of states with major concentration of manual scavengers, the minister said the Delhi government has not even responded to the Centre's queries on the action taken after the death of its workers .

The ministry has directed the states to ensure total mechanisation of cleaning septic tanks and sewers, take action against contractors and private persons who hire workers for hazardous cleaning without taking the precautions as mandated in the manual scavenging Act, 2013.

"States are the implementing agencies (for rehabilitation), but when we seek information, most states say there are no manual scavengers. Thirteen states finally admitted to 13,500 manual scavengers till July 2017," the minister said.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 22:18 IST