Picture Courtesy: https://tvaraj.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/manual-scavenging-031.jpg
This article was written by Shubham Mishra, a student of VIT SCHOOL OF LAW,CHENNAI.
INTRODUCTION-India has always been identified as a diversified country in religious,language and different traditions being followed in every nook and corner of the country.India is commended for its culture and traditions and other countries are expressing their willingness to adopt our culture, but still there are certain practices which should be condemned and discontinued.There has always been presence of divided caste system in India and one of the practices involved is manuel scavenging.The practice of forcing low-caste people in Indian communities to remove accumulated human excrement from dry latrines continuing despite having legal provisions and it should be stopped.This practice involves discrimination and untouchability. Low caste people are forced and coerced to perform this pathetic job by upper caste people and they are not given any other opportunity as well.This practice is actually caste based and only dalit caste indulgence in this work is present and these people have to face a lot of discrimination due to their pathetic and condemnable job. Womens have to carry human excreta and men usually have to cleanse sevage and pipelines.This unwanted practice is in continuance despite having laws but again the question of proper implementation comes into picture.
There is only one suitable solution is that, there should be a strict implementation of existing laws and all dry latrines should be demolished and these people should be given different opportunity for their continuance of survival in this difficult world,where still in 21st centuary,they are still treated as untouchable people.
PRESENT SITUATION OF MANUAL SCAVENGING IN INDIA:
The concept of Manuel Scavenging has evolved from ancient India and dalit caste people only were indulged in practice of accumulating human waste.All categories of work was divided among upper and lower caste people and India is traditional follower country.Therefore this practice is still continuing and no one is willing to hamper time immemorial traditions.
Manuel scavenging can be understood as modern day slavery, forced labour,untouchable and discriminatory practice.People involved in this work are treated as dirty and filthy since thier job is condemnable and awful.As far as their remuneration is concerned,they are provided with left over food and a little amount of money.
The enacted legislation of parliament which had provision regarding demolition of all non-flush toilets in India but due to lack of implementation,dry latrines are still existing in Madhya pradesh,Uttar pradesh,Haryana and Maharshtra and dalit people have to do this job since they don’t have any other option.Many times due to denial of this job,dalit people were threatened for dire consequences by upper caste.Youngsters due to lack of opportunity,they too have to join this practice against their wishes or there are some indebted family and they have to collect human waste for redemption of their debts.Untouchables use their hands and broomstick to gather waste,which is carried by them on their heads.No precautionary measures are adopted by scavengers while doing this work and they have to confront various fatal diseases which really affects their health.
The international dalit solidarity network has estimated that approximately 1.3million people are stuck in manuel scavenging and in one of the reports, government has stated that only 11,000 manuel scavengers are in entire India.The number of non-flush toilets is around 9.6million and it is being cleared despite presence of laws banning dry toilets.Government claims there are only 2.4million dry toilets.These are some gathered statistics from various resources which is indicating the truth about manuel scavenging in Indian society.
LEGISLATIONS AGAINST MANUEL SCAVENGING
Number of legislations have taken place since the inception of freedom of India.The Employment of Manuel Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(prohibition) Act,1993.This legislation punishes the employment of manuel scavengers or the construction of non-flush toilets with imprisonment for upto 1 year aand fine of 2000Rs and no conviction took place under this law within 20 years despite presence of manuel scavenging in India.
Government has passed the new legislation in 2013 called the Prohibition of Employment as Manuel Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.This act focuses in complete eradication manuel scavenging from Indian Society and there are certain salient features of this statute which are quite commendable and it seems that government has fought tooth and nail in preparation of these features and government review committees have put forth some salient points.
- 15 lakh non-flush toilets have been identified till now in 7 states and the work survey is in progress.
- 11,000 scavengers have been identified in 23 states.Survey is under progress.
- The process of disbursing one time cash assistance has initiated.
The practice of manual scavenging is outlawed under India’s constitution. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, bans the practice of untouchability as well as compelling anyone from a lower caste to remove human waste from dry toilet.
Ministry of social justice has adopted strictness for implentation of already available laws.It has guaranteed to make payment of Rs 10lakh compensation in cases of sewer deaths which have occured since 1993 as per the guidelines of Supreme court and all the states have been strictly instructed to follow apex court guidelines since laws regarding sanitation is in state list.Therefore all states are supposed to make laws in order to solve this modern day slavery.
Manuel scavenging is the job of lower class people since this practice of collecting human excrement from dry latrines has been existing since Indian history where dalit caste people had to involve in this job so we can call it a part of culture which is still continuing despite having laws regarding eradication of this condemnable and unwanted work.Constitution of India guarantees everyone with right to equality in Indian society so the question comes in mind that why are rights being infringed by people.In India majority laws turned to be futile since there is no proper implementation of those laws.The Human Rights Watch committee has some put forth some statistics which indicates the verasity of India’s current position of manuel scavenging.
This time younster’s involvement and awareness programmes are strictly needed for complete removal of manuel scavenging somewhere or the other illiteracy of dalit people is also the reason of continuance of this practice since they are unaware about the laws enacted against manuel scavenging.They can play pivotal role by raising their voice against this banned practice by Indian government.Their indulgence is mandatory because they are going to be benefitted from the raise of their voice,So these are some solutions which can be adopted to stop continuance of this filthy work and they could live their life with human dignity since it is their fundamental and human rights and no one has authority to take their rights from them.
 accessed February 5, 2017, http://time.com/3172895/dalits-sewage-untouchables-hrs-human-waste-india-caste/.
 Vibhuti Agarwal, “Untouchables” Still Pressed to Work Disposing Human Waste, (wsj.com), August 26, 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/08/25/indias-untouchables-still-pressed-to-work-disposing-human-waste-despite-legal-prohibitions/.