As many as 110 people died of asphyxia while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country last year, the highest since 2015, Union minister Ramdas Athawale said on Tuesday.
He said 57 people died cleaning sewers and septic tanks in 2015, 48 died the next year, 93 in 2017, and 68 in 2018.
Answering a written question in Lok Sabha, the MoS for social justice and empowerment said Uttar Pradesh topped the list of sewer deaths last year at 21, followed by Maharashtra (17), Gujarat (16) and Tamil Nadu (15).
The families of 44 safai karamcharis who died in 2019 were paid full compensation and 21 received partial amount, he said.
The minister said 62,904 manual scavengers have been identified between December 6, 2013 and January 31, 2020 in India and the main reason for manual scavenging is the existence of insanitary latrines which require manual cleaning. Under the government's Swachh Bharat Mission, the insanitary latrines have been identified and were being converted to eliminate the need for manual cleaning.
Athawale said under Sec.5 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 violators could be convicted with imprisonment for up to two years or fined Rs 1 lakh or both.
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