5,365 Persons Identified As Manual Scavengers Across 18 States: Govt Survey

| June 27 , 2018 , 10:06 IST

The horror of manual scavenging, humans cleaning up excreta, is often considered to be an evil of the past, especially after the government put in place an Act prohibiting the practice and providing for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

However,  Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot on Tuesday disclosed that the government has identified 5,365 persons employed as manual scavengers across 125 districts of 18 states.

Gehlot, speaking with media to highlight the achievements of his ministry in the past 4 years, said that due to the slow progress of identification of scavengers by states, the government had undertaken a National Survey of Manual Scavengers across 170 identified districts of 18 states.

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"Survey camps in 125 districts have been completed and so far, 5,365 persons have been identified as manual scavengers," said Gehlot on Tuesday.

The government had in 2013 passed the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits the employment of people as manual scavengers and provides for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families. Rehabilitation includes one-time cash assistance, loans for livelihood projects and skill development training.

Although the number of manual scavengers has reduced considerably since 2016 when the number was pegged at 12,226 pan-India, considering the modern times we live in, with access to technology and basic facilities, even 5,000 people employed as scavengers may be considered too many.

Apart from the societal implications, manual scavenging is disastrous to the health of the people engaged in it, increasing exponentially the risk of contracting severe diseases.