To clear one of the toughest examinations in India that are UPSC, an individual has to equip himself with all the relevant knowledge about the acts in India. Individuals need to have all the information about the operations and works that are carried out for the pubManual Scavenging Act in Indialic service. The safety of the people carrying out such activities is on the shoulders of the servants of India. In this article we will cover an important topic which is the manual scavenging act in India, you will get the understanding of “what do you understand by manual scavenging?”.

For a UPSC aspirant, it is imperative to know how the act has impacted the manual scavenging and what was their working condition. Knowing about such an act, the individual can work better for the advancement of such manual workers. Because it is not only about the manual scavenger worker but about their family, their children who are paying a high price. Many children who enrol at school drop out at an early age.

What is Manual Scavenging?

What do you understand by manual scavenging? If you have seen a person in your society who went into the sewer to clean it, then it’s time for you to know that it is called manual scavenging. Manual scavenging is the term used in India for the workers who clear, carry, and dispose the human excreta from open drain or sewer. Manual scavengers do not have the equipment to use so the way to clean out the drain is through brooms, shovels, and buckets. Workers shaft the excreta using the brooms and tin plates. They put the remains in the basket and carry them to the place where they need to dispose of them. This place is sometimes many kilometres away.

The Safai Karmachari Andolan

These workers rarely have any personal protective equipment in the case of dry latrines, the practice of manual scavenging was outlawed by legislation in 1993, but it had no effect on the ground. In 2003, the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) petitioned the Supreme Court for the implementation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 meant to carry out their work. This work is regarded as dehumanizing practice in India.

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Manual Scavenging in India

In the case of dry latrines, the practice of manual scavenging was outlawed by legislation in 1993, but it had no effect on the ground. In 2003, the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) petitioned the Supreme Court for the implementation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. SKA requested the court to announce the manual scavenging as a violation of the right to equality and right to life. SKA also asked to announce it as a form of untouchability and forced labour, as both of them are abolished by the Indian Constitution.

Many court petitioners drew attention to manual scrambling and sewer deaths were brought to Gujarat high court in 2004, Delhi in 2006, and Chennai in 2008. The law of 1993 protected, in particular, only manual scavenging relevant to dry latrines, but it was not at that point that the courts found it difficult to expand the principle that manual sewering should be prohibited.

Manual Scavenging Act

The Supreme Court said in the Delhi case that the court’s constitutional responsibility was to protect the rights of those who join the manholes of cleansing work due to economic compulsion. It was undoubtedly a matter of fundamental rights and the courts must therefore order state parties to take all steps to eliminate entry into sewers for the human being.

Noticing the increase in the death of manual scavengers, courts were strongly convinced that it is hazardous for the people. Indian activists tried their best to move the understanding for manual scavengers as the human right issue. Taking a step ahead Chennai Water Board took all the possible measures to avoid the situation of using Manual scavengers. They arranged for all the safety equipment as well for the situation where manual scavengers were to be used.

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Key Highlights of the Act

There are few important points that one needs to remember when talking about the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012

#1 The Bill bans the use of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning without protective equipment of sewers and septic tanks, and the building of untreated latrines.

#2 It rehabilitates to reconstruct and provides for alternative work for manual scavengers.

#3 Responsibility for assessing the insanitary latrines within the jurisdiction is the responsibility of each local authority, railway authority, and cantonment board. They are responsible for the construction of a number of sanitary community latrines.

#4 The latrine must be converted or demolished at the expense of each occupier of insanitary latrines. If it does not, the latrine will be converted and the costs recovered by the local authority.

#5 The implementing authorities shall be the District Magistrate and the municipal government.

#6 Offenses in accordance with the Bill are cognizable and may be summarily prosecuted.

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Is Manual Scavenging Act Successful?

Like all the acts there are loopholes in this act as well. And similar to the implementation of the other act,  this manual scavenging act lacked implementation. Many activists are of the point of view that the act has very little effectiveness as there are many important aspects that are missing from the act. With such an incomplete act, using the loopholes become very easy. The Bill enables the Center to issue notices to allow manual scavenging of proper safety equipment on railways. According to the 2011 Census Survey, a number of manual scavengers remain employed by the rail and defence departments.

There are still so many witnesses to manual scavenging despite being an act in the place and despite activists fighting against it for ages.  Manual Scavenging not only a caste-driven profession but also a gender-driven one. Approximately 95 percent of India’s 1.2 million manual scavengers are women. Dry-latrine households favour women over men in part because they get less pay for the excreta. Most women are paying just twenty a month for cleaning a dry toilet along with a supper every day.

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The job of scavenging has a low payroll, causing long-term health risks and problems which, without proper protection, are often fatal to those who risk entering manholes. Skin and respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue are also vulnerable to manual scavengers among numerous other diseases. More than 600 wastewater workers are expected to die each year. The stigma associated with manual scavenging, its effects on wellbeing, and the loss to the family in the event of death often affect their families.

Manual Scavenging is an important topic for the UPSC examination. If you are a UPSC aspirant then this is an important topic that you cannot miss out on. Make sure that you cover all the information on the topic. Not only for the UPSC examination it is important for you to know it as a human being because manual scavenging has been related to the violation of human rights issues.

Hopefully, this article gives you a clear idea about this trending topic. Incase of any feedback or doubt, feel free to comment below.

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Manual Scavenging Act in India: Imperative for a UPSC Aspirant to Know
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Manual Scavenging Act in India: Imperative for a UPSC Aspirant to Know
Manual scavenging has been a hot debate topic all around India. But it is imperative for a UPSC aspirant to know what is Manual Scavenging and what is the Manual scavenging act.
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Kirti Kumar

Kirti is a passionate content writer. With psychology and an MBA degree, she presents a complete persona of an empowered lady. She is an explorer who takes up a new journey, every time she takes a new turn. She has agility in her attitude with versatility in her action. She is a creative person who loves to unfurl the beauty of life through writing. She has a deep interest in dance and art & craft. She has developed a positive persona through her exciting and vast life voyage. Kirti is a person who is closely fused to her people and a hearty person open to building on new memories to cherish.

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