About the Manual Scavenging

About the Manual Scavenging:

#GS II #Social Issues

Topic Social Issues:


  • The Supreme Court has ordered the government to document its actions within six weeks in order to carry out its nearly ten-year-old ruling to end manual scavenging, protect future generations from the “inhuman practise,” and make entering sewers without safety gear a crime even in emergency situations.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act of 2013 and the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993 made the practise illegal, but a court recently took judicial notice of its continued use and the deaths of people trapped in flooded sewer lines. Judge S. Ravindra Bhat presided over the bench.

How come manual scavenging is so common in India?

  • Ineffective sewage management system: In India, the vast majority of towns lack the most modern sewage cleaning apparatus, necessitating the use of manholes for sewage workers to access the underground sewer networks.
  • Meanwhile, contractors unlawfully hire unskilled labourers and give them a daily rate because they are substantially less expensive to hire.
  • Government Plans Have Not Been Effectively Implemented: Government programmes have largely ignored caste-based discrimination and related societal issues that have sustained this practise for millennia in favour of the financial side of rehabilitation.
  • Yet, no practical methods for psychologically freeing manual scavengers have been proposed. This encourages individuals who already practise manual scavenging to dive even further.
  • Lack of Social Mobility: Manual scavengers are forced to labour because they cannot access necessities, education, or employment possibilities. Even society forbids them from taking part in group activities.
  • They are denied job prospects, and landlords won’t allow them rent their properties. They consequently become exposed, which makes it difficult for them to advance socially.
  • What Consequences Do Manual Scavenging?
  • Social Discrimination: Because of the nature of their work, the majority of manual scavengers are stigmatised by the community.
  • They are expected to accept their situation since they are thought of as being untouchable.
  • The problem is made worse by the fact that their kids face discrimination in addition to having to do the same duties as their parents.
  • Inequality based on caste: The caste is still seen as a lower class and is not allowed to work in better positions.
  • Scavenging is therefore seen as an inherent part of their line of business.
  • Also, those from lower castes who relocate to urban areas in search of a higher quality of life always find employment in the same industry.
  • Disease-Related Issues: The scavengers are exposed to gases like methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. These gases can cause major health problems, including fatal illnesses, with prolonged exposure.
  • Because to the numerous germs that grow in sewers, people are also vulnerable to a number of ailments there.
  • The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) database shows that between 2013 and 2017, 608 manual scavengers lost their lives cleaning sewage tanks.

Ways to end manual scavenging in India:

  • Correct Identification: Manual scavenging offends everyone and breaches human rights. State governments should prioritise finding the people who remove hazardous sludge in order to ensure that policies are carried out effectively.
  • Involvement of Stakeholders Actively Including all of the important stakeholders would be essential to solving this problem.
  • They include, among other pertinent officials, the District Administrative Officers, Chief Medical Officer, NGOs, and Municipal Corporation.
  • Equally crucial is the program’s inclusion of the areas close to the neighbourhoods that are most affected.
  • Making an informed decision about how to best move forward with the project will be made easier by obtaining input from the community and the authorities.
  • Additional Education By arranging a meeting with the community, the authorities should better educate the people about the negative effects of scavenging and lawfully using dry toilets, as well as the underlying reasons of these behaviours.
  • In addition to warning individuals about the risks of scavenging, advertising should offer them an alternate way to make money.
  • It may be permitted for locals to offer solutions that they are already accustomed to.
  • One of the most crucial aspects of rehabilitation is the provision of compensation and manual scavengers’ rehabilitation.
  • The new positions would seek to give locals equal chances. Via the new jobs, manual scavengers can be absorbed into society.
  • According to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, the government is required to identify every person who died while working on sewage systems since 1993 and pay their families Rs. 10 lakh in compensation.
  • Investments in Effective Human Waste Management: Municipal bio composting and addressing the issues with solid and liquid waste segregation are two examples of how we may use rubbish for the good of humanity.
  • Manual scavenging will eventually decrease if rubbish is seen as an asset rather than a liability, making space for Swacch Bharat and Swasth Bharat.
  • Robotic scavenging: Machines that can take the place of people in manual labour can be created with the aid of robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • One such robotic device designed to clean different kinds of sewer manholes goes by the moniker of Bandicoot.
  • Scavenging offers little money that cannot fund a child’s education in the aim of social integration. The child eventually stops attending school and begins working for their parents.
  • To dispel preconceptions and false beliefs about manual scavenging, plans should be created to assist these kids in finishing their schoolwork.
Source The Hindu