NHRC recommends special Act against manual scavenging
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has made a series of recommendation to the Centre to eradicate manual scavenging, including bringing a new Act on “hazardous cleaning” and taking strict action against local authorities who employ people as manual scavengers.
It has also asked the Centre to provide Rs10 lakh loan to manual scavengers’ family members so that they can start some business activity.
Subsequently, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) should monitor the sewer deaths in its reports, it said. The NHRC said the tall claims made by states that they have no manual scavengers and zero sanitary latrines are “far from truth”.
“Therefore, the Commission has recommended that accountability must be fixed in case of wrong reporting by the concerned authorities about the number of manual scavengers in any region of the country,” the NHRC said in a statement on Monday.
Advocating the broadening of the definition of manual scavenging to cover other types of hazardous cleaning or enactment of a new law for it, the Commission has also recommended that a penal section may be put in law to prevent the discrimination and harassment faced by the children of manual scavengers and women manual scavengers.
As part of their rehabilitation process, NHRC has recommended that manual scavengers may be linked to schemes under which they can immediately start earning like MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and revisit to see how their families are doing.
It has further asked that amount of compensation paid as one time cash assistance for rehabilitation of manual scavengers may be enhanced from Rs40,000 to Rs1 lakh.
For starting some business activity, it has asked ministry of finance to designate particular nationalised bank for each state to take up the responsibility of extending loans to manual scavengers and their dependents up to Rs10 lakh as well as provide them individual or group insurances for which premium must be paid by local authorities.
“The government needs to plan adequate investment facilitating the shift to the use of technology, maintenance of technology and training the workers to operate the technology,” NHRC said.
“Officer in the Supervisory level or In charge of the area should submit a declaration to the respective civic body to the effect that the required safety gears are being provided before any person enters the sewer/septic tank,” it said.
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