Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report about the plight of manual scavengers, including 30 women in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, the NHRC on Friday slapped a notice on the state government and sought an explanation on the matter within six weeks. Considering it as the “worst example of violation of right to life, dignity, equality and health care”, the rights panel has issued notices, returnable within six weeks, to the Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary.
It has also called for a detailed report on the matter along with the steps taken or proposed to be taken to deal with the situation along with measures for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has observed that in a civilized society, where the government has passed laws like Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, Untouchability Offence Act and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Caste (PoA) Act, the women of a vulnerable Dalit community are still not able to get rid of the slur of carrying human excreta on their heads.
Meerut is almost a part of the National Capital Region, the NHRC noted and said if this is the picture of an area not very far from the national capital then one can imagine the scenario in other parts of the country. Narrating the plight of 30 women manual scavengers in Radhna Inayatpur village of Mawana in Meerut district, of whom many have grown old doing this work, the media report says that they are paid as little as between Rs 10-50 every month per household to clean the dry latrines and sometimes, as a bonus, they are given stale leftover food and worn-out clothes.