The Center told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that no deaths have been reported due to manual scavenging and there are no reports of manual scavenging in the country.
There is currently no report of people engaged in manual scavenging as defined under Section 2 (1) (g) of the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (MS Act, 2013)”. Manual scavenging has been banned with effect from 6.12.2013. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said that from the above date no person or agency can engage or employ any person in manual scavenging.
The minister was responding to questions raised by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP Girish Chandra on the situation of manual scavengers in the country and their employment status.
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Athawale admits that around 330 people have died in the last five years due to “accidents during dangerous cleaning of drains and septic tanks”. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of deaths at 47, followed by Tamil Nadu at 43, Delhi at 42 and Haryana at 36.
“Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, since October 2, 2014, more than 10.99 crore sanitary toilets have been constructed in rural areas and more than 62.65 lakh in urban areas and unsanitary toilets have been converted into sanitary toilets. The ministry said that this work has made a big contribution in ending the practice of manual garbage disposal.
However, the ministry has identified manual scavengers in a separate response. It said the government was providing assistance to “identified manual scavengers” for their rehabilitation under the Self-Employment Scheme (SRMS) for rehabilitation of manual scavengers. Government provides one time cash assistance ₹40,000 for one identified manual scavenger in the family.
The center provides skill development training with stipend for two years to manual scavengers and their dependents. ₹3,000 per month, the ministry said.