Recently, the government told Parliament that in the last five years, there have been no deaths of manual scavengers across the country. Social workers have reacted sharply to this statement of the government and said that even after death, the dignity of the people is being robbed. Explain that manual scavenging is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
In response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale has said that 66,692 manual scavengers have been identified. However, on how many manual scavenger deaths have been recorded, he replied, “There have been no deaths due to manual scavenging.”
During the last session of Parliament, on 10 March, Athawale had said, “There have been no deaths due to manual scavenging. However, there have been reports of persons dying while cleaning sewers or septic tanks.” Activists have described this response of the government as a complete lack of indifference.
Bezwada Wilson, national convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan, an organization working to end manual scavenging, said the minister himself had admitted that 340 people had died during the cleaning of sewers. But now, he is mistaking manual scavenging for cleaning dry toilets. So, he should mention very clearly in his statement that people don’t die in cleaning dry toilets, but people die in septic tanks here. The government is denying everything and in the same way they are denying manual scavenging deaths.”