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State makes fresh bid to end manual scavenging

From today, govt enumerators will go from door to door in urban and rural areas to update the count of sanitary latrines

To end manual scavenging in the state, the Maharashtra government has ordered a fresh drive. Starting Monday, government enumerators will go from door to door to update the count of sanitary latrines in urban as well as rural areas.

The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment defines unsanitary latrines as those that require human excreta to be cleared or handled manually.

After enacting the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, on December 6, 2013, the Union government had issued guidelines to states to ensure conversion of such latrines into sanitary ones. Senior officials in Maharashtra have conceded that the guidelines have not been properly implemented in the state.

Ujjwal Uke, Principal Secretary, Social Justice and Special Assistance, Maharashtra, issued orders for the fresh survey exercise on August 7. The enumerators have been directed to complete the survey exercise in a month. In Maharashtra’s urban agglomerates alone, at least 1, 73,688 households use latrines that require manual cleaning, official estimates show. Only Uttar Pradesh (2, 23,274), and Andhra Pradesh (1, 73,690) are worse off.

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Official sources said that the number of manual scavengers in the state will further increase in the fresh survey, since the Centre has widened the definition of a scavenger. The Centre’s new Act has provisions for rehabilitation of manual scavengers besides acting against those engaging scavengers.

The Centre’s new Act promises a one-time cash assistance for rehabilitation of those working as manual scavengers, scholarships for their children, allotment of residential plots and fiscal assistance for building homes, training in alternate trades, and concessional business loans for one member in his/her family.

“But for all this to materialise, a thorough survey identifying the extent of manual scavenging must be done first,” senior officials admitted. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier set a March 2016 deadline to end manual scavenging.

sandeep.ashar@expressindia.com

First published on: 10-08-2015 at 01:11:42 am
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