House panel flags delay in cash aid to kin of those who died cleaning sewers | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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House panel flags delay in cash aid to kin of those who died cleaning sewers

Dec 19, 2022 12:02 AM IST

In accordance with a Supreme Court judgment of 2014, compensation of ₹10 lakh each is paid to the families of those who have died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks from the year 1993 onwards.

New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee has expressed disappointment over the delay in release of compensation to the families of 104 people who died while cleaning sewer or septic tanks manually, saying that there appears to be “non-seriousness” on the part of both the Centre and state governments.

According to the government, the number of deaths of workers while cleaning sewers or septic tanks, which was as high as 117 during 2019, drastically reduced to 19 in the year 2020, and 30 during 2021. (FILE)
According to the government, the number of deaths of workers while cleaning sewers or septic tanks, which was as high as 117 during 2019, drastically reduced to 19 in the year 2020, and 30 during 2021. (FILE)

The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, in its “action taken report” tabled in Parliament on Friday, asked the ministry of social justice and empowerment (department of social justice and empowerment) to immediately settle the cases. “The committee would be happy if there is no further dilly-dallying in awarding compensation in pending 104 cases and information in this regard is furnished to the committee,” the report said.

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In accordance with a Supreme Court judgment of 2014, compensation of 10 lakh each is paid to the families of those who have died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks from the year 1993 onwards. The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and the department of social justice ensure that the compensation is paid.

In its response, the social development ministry or department of social justice said that it has been regularly pursuing with the concerned state governments the matter of early payment of compensation in remaining cases. “The details of such cases have also been shared with the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis with the request to take up each such pending case with the concerned State/District Magistrate/Commissioner of Municipality for payment of full amount of compensation to the dependants,” it said.

Expressing “unhappiness” with the pace with which things are being processed, the committee said: “It has been found from the action taken reply of the department that no concrete action has been taken to compensate the family of the deceased except for the pursuance of the state governments but with no positive results.”

“The committee feels that the family of a bread earner needs to be instantly compensated in case of death. However, there appears to be non-seriousness on the part of the Department as well as State Governments,” it said.

The committee expressed surprise that despite efforts being taken, deaths of people while cleaning sewers and septic tanks continue even today. “The committee is unable to comprehend the reasons due to which the initiatives of the department are not making requisite impact,” it said.

In its response, the ministry said that the number of deaths of workers while cleaning sewers or septic tanks, which was as high as 117 during 2019, drastically reduced to 19 in the year 2020, and 30 during 2021. “Therefore, it is clear that there is remarkable improvement in the situation of deaths... The ministry will continue its efforts to achieve its objective to stop the deaths of workers,” it said.

Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the ministry said that no person had died during manual scavenging in the country between 2019 and 2022. It added that a total of 233 people died “due to accidents while undertaking hazardous cleaning of sewer and septic tanks” in this time period, and 199 of them have already been provided compensation in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment of 2014.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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