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Former BJP legislator from Gujarat, Manhar Valjibhai Zala, today assumed charge as the chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), which was headless for almost a year.
Two other members, Manju Diler from Uttar Pradesh and Dilip Kallu Haathived from Maharashtra, also took charge as members of the NCSK.
The government had cleared the names for the posts but the announcement had to be postponed in view of the Model Code of Conduct which was in place for Assembly polls in five states. The poll code was lifted after the results were declared on March 11.
The NCSK, established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging, has a sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson.
Zala expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for selecting him for the position.
The new chairperson assured the safai karamcharis present on the occasion that he along with his new team will ensure that issues affecting their socio-economic and working conditions will be addressed in right earnest.
Zala said he will hold talks with the government about making the commission a permanent and a statutory body with powers of a civil court.
"At present, the commission is a temporary body which gets extensions from time to time," he said.
"I will make efforts towards making it a statutory body, just like other commissions, with powers of a civil court, so that it can summon people, enforce their attendance and take evidence under oath and hear a case," he said.
The chairperson also highlighted the need for strengthening the commission regarding budget allocations and increasing number of staff.
He also said the commission will see to it that the benefits of rehabilitation and welfare schemes being run by the Centre reach the beneficiaries.
Zala, a former MLA from Jamnagar, has been associated with the BJP since 1991. He was the mayor of Jamnagar from 2005 to 2008.
He also served as the Gujarat unit vice-president of Anu Suchit Jati Morcha from 1999 to 2004 and was the director of Safai Kamdar Vikas Nigam in Gandhinagar in 2014.
The two members of the commission, Diler and Haathived, have been associated with the BJP for the last 20-25 years.