With 144 Deaths, Tamil Nadu Tops List Of Most Manual Scavenger Deaths In The Country
While manual scavenging is a harsh reality in many parts of India, data released by the government shows the dismal condition in Tamil Nadu. The information was reportedly released by the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, as a part of answers to a series of questions posed by Mullapally Ramachandran, Congress MP from Kerala.
Data reveals a dismal condition
According to The News Minute, the minister has asked Athawale to provide data on the number of deaths of manual scavengers in the last five years till 2018. Within that time period (2013 to 2018), 144 deaths have taken place in Tamil Nadu followed by 71 in Uttar Pradesh. The minister also said that 141 families have been compensated with Rs 10 lakh each and also mentions that other than Karnataka, Delhi and Rajasthan, no other states have filed FIRs against employers for engaging people in the profession.
According to Times Now, the 2011 Socio-economic census report shows that Tamil Nadu only has 334 manual scavengers, whereas another National Commission survey conducted in 2013 across eight districts of the state identified around 3032 manual scavengers. D Samuel Velanganni, the Tamil Nadu State Convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan told The News Minute that the state government is yet to carry out a survey to find the actual number of manual scavengers in the state. He also said, “The biggest challenge in addressing the crisis is that even if the manual scavengers themselves take the initiative to get registered under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, government officers are not accepting the filled-up forms, which defeats the purpose of having the survey itself.”
Tamil Nadu is the state where the most number of deaths of manual scavengers are reported, Manhar Valibhai Zala, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Manual Scavengers (NCSK-National Commission for Safai Karamcharis) and the members from the associations of manual scavengers across the state was arranged in Chennai on January 21, 2019, in Chennai.
Even though manual scavenging is banned in the country, incidents like these are still coming to light. In the meeting, Zala said that a survey will be ordered to find out the people involved in all kinds of manual scavenging, and the stipends issued, medical insurance, regular medical checkups, proper sanitation equipment provided manual scavengers will be monitored, reported Mirror Now.
The Logical Indian take
Manual scavenging is modern-day slavery. That it continues in the 21st century India is something that should horrify and outrage us all. It is one of the deadliest jobs one can be involved in. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that further deaths due to manual scavenging do not occur.
The Prohibition of Manual Scavengers Act should be implemented with more efficiency; the governments at the centre and the states should establish that manual scavenging will not be tolerated and lawbreakers will be punished. Also, alternate means of employment should be generated for the impoverished people who are forced to become manual scavengers due to lack of alternatives means of livelihood.
The most harrowing part is that despite knowing that manual scavenging in banned, people still employ scavengers to clean their drains and tanks. It is important to care for the lives of people who work for us, and even more important to ensure that no one has to get involved in something so deadly that it might take their life.