Union minister Thaawarchand Gehlot on Wednesday asked states to reassess their surveys using wider definition of manual scavenging to ensure that all those manually cleaning un-decomposed septage are identified.
He said an ongoing survey has so far identified over 20,000 people involved in manual scavenging.
At the sixth meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee to review the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, Gehlot said the government is keen to eradicate manual scavenging in a time-bound manner.
The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment also asked the state governments to implement the provisions of the legislation in letter and spirit.
The Act aims at complete eradication of manual scavenging in its various manifestations and comprehensive rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
"Keeping in view the large number of insanitary latrines replaced in house listing and household data of Census-2011, the states have been asked to revisit their survey by using the wider definition of manual scavenging as provided in the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act to ensure that all those cleaning un-decomposed septage manually are identified and listed as manual scavengers," he said.
The Union minister said the government is implementing a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
Under the scheme, one-time cash assistance, skill development training and loan subsidy are provided to manual scavengers.
Though manual cleaning of septic tanks is prohibited under the Act, a number of septic tank-related deaths have been reported from time to time. Such cases were taken up with the state governments concerned for payment of compensation of Rs 10 lakh as per Supreme Court orders, Gehlot said.
The states have been urged to take steps for total mechanization of septic tank and sewer cleaning to prevent such deaths, he said.
According to an official statement, the Ministry of Labour has advised the states to carry out a special inspection drives to identify and prosecute employers and contractors who are violating the provision of Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and the MS Act, 2013, and forcing workers into manual scavenging.
The Central Monitoring Committee, in its meeting on Thursday, recommended simplification of survey guidelines to fast track identification of manual scavengers.
The recent survey by the ministry has identified 20,596 people involved in manual scavenging across the country, with Uttar Pradesh accounting for nearly 6,000 of them.
A survey conducted between 2014 and 2017 had estimated that there were 13,770 manual scavengers in the country, a senior official said.
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