The Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 criminalises the practice of employing individuals to manually clean, carry, dispose or handle, human excreta from dry latrines, open drains or pits and sewers. However, a ground report produced by Video Volunteers reveals that the practice continues unabated in Gujarat, which declared itself manual scavenging free in 1992.
The video from Dhangadra town of Surendranagar district in Gujarat shows three young men enter chest-deep into a sewer without any protective gear: no gloves, no masks, no machines to help their work. The young sanitation workers are unaware that the Dhangadra Municipality, their employer, is legally bound to provide this to them or that the conditions they are compelled to work in, is illegal. The onus of implementing the Act lies squarely on the local and state government authorities.
However, when visual evidence was presented to Charuben Mori, the Chief Executive Officer of the Dhangadra Municipality, she refused to take cognizance of it and said, “We don’t endorse or promote illegal practices such as manual scavenging.” On being asked why safai karmacharis weren’t provided safety gear, Mori refused to take responsibility and instead, shifted the blame onto the contractors saying, “These are not our employees so we do not know about their working conditions. They are employed by the contractors”. The law is clear that a person cannot be directly or indirectly (under contract) employed for unprotected cleaning of sewers.
VV monitors violations, discriminations and injustice through community video to bring the perpetrators to justice. But what happens when visual evidence fails to move an official to act?
The Logical Indian appeal to all of you to take a step to stop such lawless discrimination. Sign the petition urging the Government of Gujarat to take punitive action against the erring officials.
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