Skip to main content

Manual scavengerlive in segregated localities without social, economic protection

A new study*, based on a survey of 250 areas and 5,827 households across five states of India, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, has found that, despite the legislations seeking to eradicate manual scavenging (the Construction of Dry Latrines and Employment of Manual Scavengers (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and the recently-enacted Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013), the system of manual scavenging still exists in India and with increasing urbanization across the country. Worse, it has the potential to spread far and wide. A report based on the survey carried out by Ahmedabad civil rights group Janvikas with the help of a dozen community based organizations (CBOs):
***
Inadequate infrastructure, casteist mindset of government officials and society at large, poor implementation of legislations banning manual scavenging, internalization of caste hierarchy and complete acceptance of caste based occupations in the minds of scavenging community as well as lack of political are enough to create obstacles for the complete eradication of manual scavenging in India. The survey identified 3,799 manual scavengers across 250 areas (villages and slums). Manav Garima’s work in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) area alone reveals that there are more than 200 sites in Ahmedabad city itself where open defecation exists and so does manual scavenging. The survey by Manav Garima in nine slum areas of AMC area showed 90 persons from the scavenging community practiced manual scavenging.
Poor job opportunity in occupations other than scavenging job was a striking finding of the survey. Of the 10,944 working individuals across houses surveyed, 5,610 (51%) are engaged in sweeping, underground drainage cleaning and manual scavenging work. Only 410 persons from 5,827 households are occupied in occupations other than scavenging. Majority of the community is still dependent on credit from the private moneylenders or family members or self-help groups (SHGs) which are formed from their community/ neighborhood). They are denied credit from mainstream financial institutions in spite of government claim of financial inclusion. Only 54% of respondents have bank accounts.
The scavenging community at most places resides in segregated, caste-based inhabitation, away from other areas and/ or not in slums/ localities where other castes reside. Their areas are neglected in terms of basic amenities, infrastructure and services such as water, garbage lifting, healthcare, etc. Average life expectancy is low – 50 years). There is wide prevalence of chronic ailments, and annually approximately 600 underground drainage and septic tank cleaners die prematurely.
In urban areas across the five states, the practice of open defecation is commonly seen near railway and bus stations, market areas, most of the slum areas and many pavements. In rural areas, the system of private dry latrines is rampant in Uttar Pradesh, where women from the scavenging community have been employed for generations to clean toilets with bare hands. In South India, more than private dry latrines, gram panchayats employ sweepers to clean human excreta at common public places. In both urban and rural India, be it private or public toilet cleaning, manual scavenging is practiced, which is a clear violation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.
The survey has considered underground drainage (manhole) workers and septic tank or soak-pit cleaners as manual scavengers since they clean these manually, without any safety gear. In urban areas, particularly in municipal corporations, underground drainage cleaning is done manually. While the high courts of Gujarat and Karnataka have in their interim orders/ directives prohibited entry of persons in manhole unless absolutely necessary, and not without safety equipments in any case, its implementation remains a big question. Municipalities and municipal corporations in both these states have purchased jetting and suction machines to clean underground drainages, yet underground drainage workers employed with municipal bodies enter manholes without safety equipment.
In semi-urban and rural areas, sweepers are employed on casual basis to clean soak pits/ septic tanks of households, government offices, schools, hospitals, temples/mosques/ religious places, and other premises. They also enter septic tank without any protective gear. It is estimated that every year around 600 underground drainage workers and septic tank cleaners die while at work. At 911 places (in the areas surveyed) manual scavenging is carried out. This includes private toilets in rural areas. In Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, open defecation is mostly practiced in urban slums.
Out of 3,799 persons engaged in manual scavenging, 60% (2,294) are women. This is more visible in rural areas. Only 11% doing manual scavenging have permanent employment with government or private organizations. About 43% are contract workers, while majority, 46% (1,745 or 3,799), are casual workers without any kind of job security or social security. Whatever is the nature of employment of manual scavengers, sheer work of manual scavenging is breach of law of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. Here, both government agencies – panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations – as well as private organizations are at equal fault of continuing the practice.

Status of physical infrastructure in 250 areas

No doubt, 92% of areas resided by the scavenging community have road connectivity. The trend is seen across all the states where the survey was conducted. This may be attributed to state governments’ emphasis on infrastructure development, increasing urbanization and enhancement in budget allocation for road construction. Further, 188 areas out of 250 areas have street light. This is related to the variable of road connectivity to slum areas and remote rural areas. Also, 92% areas (231 out of 250) have electricity connections.
While road connectivity, streetlights and electricity supply show a bright picture, availability of water supply (drinking and household usage) shows the bleak side. Only 59% of the areas (147/250) have supply of drinking water. Members of the scavenging community either depend on community sources like ponds and hand pumps, or government-run water tankers, or fetch water from faraway places. The scavenging community, which is compelled to clean open drainages and underground sewerage system, do not have drainage facility in their own localities. In urban areas as well as in rural areas, 52.5% and 52% areas respectively have drainage facilities. Only 14% areas (36 out of 250 areas surveyed) have garbage pickup facility. These include 35 urban slums and a village.
Further, 185 out of 250 areas surveyed (74%) have anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for pre-school children. Only 103 areas out of 250 areas surveyed (41%) have healthcare facilities such as primary health centre, urban health centre in the neighborhood, or auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) workers visiting their localities, and in some cases availability of private healthcare practitioners. Scavengers in 144 villages (out of total 250 areas surveyed) have not benefitted from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Only 70/250, i.e. 28% areas have public toilets. In rest of the areas community members have to either rely on open defecation or very few have individual/ personal toilets in their households. Further, out of 5,827 households surveyed, only 1,851 (32%) have individual household toilets, while 3,976 households of scavengers do not have individual toilet facility. As many as 68% areas are still dependent on public toilets or open defecation (in rural and urban areas). Only 28% areas (70/250), where the scavenging community lives, have facility of public toilets. Of the 70 areas that have public toilet facility, only 107 public toilets (seats) have water supply, while 995 toilets are dry toilets, which require manual scavenging of human excreta. These dry latrines are just walls on three, without any doors.

Survey of 5827 households, 25,082 persons

Of the 5,827 households /families surveyed (of those who are engaged in scavenging work) , 149 belong to other backward classes (OBCs) and minority (Muslim) families, 389 are scheduled tribe (ST) families, an overwhelming majority, 5,289 families, belong to the scheduled castes (SCs). This clearly shows that sweeping, manhole cleaning and manual scavenging are largely caste-based occupations.
The educational status of the persons surveyed indicates that 6,774 respondents are pursuing studies, 2,059 are school dropouts, while 8,230 have either completed studies up to 12th or college, or they do not want to pursue studies further through formal or informal education system. As many as 2,967 persons have never been to school, while 5,052 persons did not answer about their educational status.
Of the adult members of the households surveyed, 3,903 persons are working as sweepers. 609 are working as manhole workers, while 1,098 are working as manual scavengers. Only three respondents are earning through an animal husbandry occupation, while 15 worked under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) at the time of the survey, which was carried out in 2011-12. A large number of respondents (2,748) are daily wage earners, either occupied as agriculture labourers, work as coolies or do petty jobs. As many as 511 persons are employed in private jobs in sales, housekeeping, labour or clerical work in shops, hospitals, factories and companies, etc. Another 1,504 persons are not regularly employed, meaning, they work on ad-hoc basis.
As many as 49% households surveyed (2877/5827) have monthly family income of less than Rs 3,000; 1,340 households have monthly income between Rs 3,001 and Rs. 5,000; 28% (1610/5827) households have monthly income exceeding Rs 5,000. As many as 106 households are listed as antyodaya (poorest of the poor) households and are getting government benefit for food security. Further, 64% (3739/5827) households live the below poverty line (BPL) and 32% (1849/5827) households are above the poverty line (APL), who do not get any food security benefits from the government. Only 2% households do not have any card which ensures food security to them.
As many as 62% respondent households live in pukka houses, while a sizeable number of respondents, 38% (2211/5827), live in kutcha (thatched/ mud) houses. Further, 66% households are owned by respondents themselves, while 19% live in rented houses, and 871 families (15% of the sample) do not have any legal status of houses they live in. They are under the constant fear of being evicted by municipal bodies. In rural areas, they have to struggle to get housing site entitlements in their name. The situation is such despite the fact that 46% of respondent households have been living in their respective houses for up to 10 years, another 42% have been living for the last 11-20 years, and 679 families (12%) have been living in that the same house/locality for more than 20 years.
Only 558 respondent households (9.5% of total respondents) have accessed government housing schemes to construct their houses, under the Rajiv Gruha Kalpa in Andhra Pradesh, TAHDCO in Tamilnadu, Urban Ashraya Yojana in Karnataka, Mahamaya Yojana in Uttar Pradesh, apart from Central schemes like Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, JNNURM Housing Scheme, and Ambedkar Awas Yojana.
Of the 5,827 households surveyed, the adults of 5,090 households (87%) have voter identity cards in their names, 37% households (2,129/5,827) have Aadhaar (Unique Identity or UID) cards in their names, which gives proof of identity and residence to the citizens of India, and 54% respondent households have bank accounts. Bank accounts are a requirement for NREGS wages, benefits of government schemes and subsidies, etc. Only 26% households (1,519/5,827) have ESIC or health insurance coverage. Almost three-quarters of the respondents do not have such security, which results in either negligence of symptoms leading to critical ailments. There is high prevalence of superstition and quacks in the community, and many prefer not to approach a medical practitioner until it is absolutely necessary.

*They study, “Status of Scavenging Community in India”, was carried out by 12 CBOs: Men’s Institute of Development and Training (MIDT), Hapur, Uttar Pradesh; Apna Theatre, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh; Sahyogi Rural Development and Research Institute, Makdrandpur, Uttar Pradesh; Purvanchal Rural Development and Training Institute (PRDTI) and Dalit Shakti Kendra, Mubarakpur, Uttar Pradesh; Manav Garima Trust, Ahmedabad, Gujarat; Dalit Women’s Forum, Greater Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh; Sanghamithra Service Society, Chandragiri Mandal, Andhra Pradesh; Thamate Centre for Rural Empowerment, Tumkur, Karnataka; Cultural Action and Rural Development Society, Manamadurai, TamilNadu; Rights Education and Development Centre (READ), Sathyamangalam, TamilNadu; Vizhuthugal Social Education & Development Trust, Avinashi, Tamil Nadu; Dr Ambedkar Women & Child Regeneration Development (Dr AWARD); and Merku Theru, Annavasal Post, district Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu.

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People