A National Survey in 18 states identified 62,904 manual scavengers between 2013 and January 31, 2020. Tabling the data in Parliament, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said there have been no reports of deaths due to manual scavenging, but also acknowledged reports received by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis about deaths of people while cleaning septic tanks and sewers.
Manual scavenging has been prohibited under The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, in all states and Union Territories with effect from December 6, 2013.
The Ministry said the reason manual scavenging happens is the existence of unsanitary latrines that require manual cleaning.
The number of deaths of individuals who died while cleaning septic and sewer tanks, as tabled by the Ministry, add up to 376 between 2015 and 2019. The number peaked last year at 110.
📢 Express Explained is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@ieexplained) and stay updated with the latest
In 2019, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of such deaths at 21, followed by Gujarat (16), Tamil Nadu (15) and Haryana (14). In 2017 and 2018, too, the most such deaths were reported by Uttar Pradesh, at 18 and 11, respectively.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines