Manual Scavenging Kills: 88 Lives Lost In the Last Three Years
Despite a ban on manual scavenging, 88 people lost their lives while cleaning septic tanks and sewers in the past three years, according to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Out of 620 deaths reported in 15 states since 1993, nearly 44% of total deaths occurred in Tamil Nadu (144) and Gujarat (131). In Karnataka, 75 deaths were reported in the same time period.
Compensation To Victims’ Families
Out of 620 cases identified so far, compensation has been granted in 445 cases, a partial settlement has been made in 58 cases and no compensation has been granted in 117 cases, told Social Justice and Empowerment Minister of State Ramdas Athawale to the Lok Sabha, in a reply to a question by MPs Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiaz Jaleel on Tuesday (9 July, 2019). However, out of 88 cases reported since 2017, compensation is pending in as many as 52 cases.
The Supreme Court, in March 2014 order, mandated the government to identify people died in sewerage work since 1993. The court stated that compensation of ₹10 lakh each must be paid to the families of those who died in sewerage work since 1993.
No Data On Conviction
While the Act prohibits employing manual scavengers, a staggering number of 53,598 manual scavengers have been identified since December 2013, said Athawale, replying to a question by MP Vishnu Dayal Ram.
However, despite a large number of manual scavengers identified across the country, “There have been no reports from any State/Union Territory regarding conviction in such cases,” said Athawale. Further, the data related to the number of deaths due to manual scavenging is available only from 15 sates as many states have not reported while others have reported ‘nil’.
Demand To Amend Manual Scavengers Act
Stating that actual deaths from manual scavenging could be higher, the MPs urged the govt to amend the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, to make it mandatory for states to report such cases.
Also Read: Manual Scavenging: Five Suffocate To Death Inside A Septic Tank In Chhatisgarh; 13 Deaths In A Week