“Manual Scavenging” is the term used for cleaners who step into the open pits, sewer, septic tanks, and dry toilets to clean human excreta.
In 1993, the law prohibited manual scavengers from cleaning dry toilets and further extended them support in the form of rehabilitation which could open up ways of employment for them.
Further, if men and women are hired to clean septic tanks, sewer and open pits, they are supposed to be supplied with a “protective gear” to carry out the task.
How Does The Practice Still Exist?
The government often tends to give projects to private agencies and companies. Since the definition of “protective gear” is not clearly dictated in the law, these agencies have found a loophole to hire men without even looking after their safety.
Men and women are hired at cheap labour to save the funds that would go higher on the usage of machines.
One could look at the official statistics and think that we have improved on the numbers of manual scavengers but the reality could be vague. Different statistics show different numbers that differ widely.
These statistics are nowhere close to each other, leaving us with a blurred picture of reality. However, according to the government, around 300 workers die every year due to the toxic gases of the sewer. Experts also suggest that these number can be heavily underrated.
While the topic of reservation never goes out of the debate, the harsh reality of India stays still on the fact that the Dalits and other backward classes continue to be forced to clean up our human waste simply because of a century-old tradition that they are bound to follow.
The hypocrisy worsens when these people are declared untouchable for doing the same job that the same people force them to do.
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