March 18th, 2016
Image Courtesy: The Hindu
This year’s annual budget deemed it as pro-poor, pro-farmer and pro-village. But a question still remains on why allocations of funds to effectively run vital welfare schemes are being cut. Take for example the rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers.The five-year budget outlay to rehabilitate manual scavengers was surprisingly reduced to Rs 10 crore in the current budget, from Rs 4,656 crore that was allocated in 2013 when THE PROHIBITION OF EMPLOYMENT AS MANUAL SCAVENGERS AND THEIR REHABILITATION ACT was passed. However, only 10 crores have allocated for this year in the recent budget. The reason stated by the Ministry of Social Justice for such a reduction is that the previous years’ funds have remained unused.
What does the government intend to say?
The government surprisingly has cited its own mistake as a reason for the drastic reduction in the outlay. If funds not used was an issue, it was up to the government to solve that. Trimming down the outlay for rehabilitation of Manual scavenging is reflective of the commitment of the government towards manual scavengers.
The scenario of manual scavenging in India
The latest Socio-Economic Caste Census data released in July 2015 revealed that in India 1,80,657 households are engaged in manual scavenging for their livelihood. Going by the numbers, the fund outlay of Rs 10 crore would not suffice to rehabilitate even 70 per cent of the total household. Again, a report presented in the Rajya Sabha estimated an appalling number of 22,237 people losing their lives every year due to manual scavenging in urban areas. Most of such deaths remain uncompensated.
The Logical Indian appeal to the government that if this practice cannot be routed out completely, enough steps should be taken to provide the manual scavengers a better life with proper rehabilitation and adequate solatium to the family of the deceased.