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    729 Districts Free of Manual Scavenging

    Civil societyHuman rights729 Districts Free of Manual Scavenging
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    729 Districts Free of Manual Scavenging

    A protocol has been developed, highlighting the minimum standards in mechanization of sewer and septic tank cleaning operations to minimize the need for hazardous manual entry and prevent casualties of Safaimitras.

    729 districts have reported themselves as manual scavenging free as of March 2024, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

    Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM-U) 2.0, launched on 1st  October, 2021, includes a new component, i.e. Used Water Management (UWM) with one of the objectives of eradication of hazardous entry into sewers and septic tanks, through mechanization of sewer and septic tank cleaning operations for which Central share funds for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) with population less than 1 lakh are released for procuring adequate numbers of septic tank desludging equipments.

    For replacing manhole with machine hole, additional central assistance is provided under SBM-U 2.0 for procurement of mechanized desludging/cleaning equipment, training of SafaiMitras, capacity building and public awareness. A protocol has been developed, highlighting the minimum standards in mechanization of sewer and septic tank cleaning operations to minimize the need for hazardous manual entry and prevent casualties of Safaimitras, the minister said.

    According to the Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, a “Manual Scavenger” is a person engaged or employed by an individual or a local authority or a public or private agency, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the central government or a state government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be prescribed, and the expression “manual scavenging” shall be construed accordingly.

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    “Hazardous Cleaning” by an employee, in relation to a sewer or septic tank, means its manual cleaning by such employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions, as may be prescribed or provided in any other law, for the time being in force or rules made thereunder.

    Image: Sharada Prasad / Flickr

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