The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to file a report regarding disbursement of compensation to families of 118 manual scavengers who had died since 1993 while cleaning up sewers in public places in the state.
The court gave the direction recently to the Secretary of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water supply to file a progress report on the disbursement of compensation amount, and posted the matter to November 25.
Perusing the summary report submitted by an NGO Change India in connection with the deaths of manual scavengers in the state and compensation for their kin, the court said, “Keeping the summary position, further progress report will be filed by the authorities and the excuse of review petition not pending should result in payment being disbursed.”
The summary stated that a total of 118 families remain to be compensated. About 35 families still remain untraceable, while 49 families were denied rightful compensation in urban areas, and in the case of rural areas it was 28, it said.
Earlier, the Madras High Court had directed the state government to disburse the compensation as per the direction of the Supreme Court order dated May 10,2016, which stated that the families of scavengers are entitled for a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs each.
Following the apex court ruling, organisations such as Change India and Safai Karamchari Andolan enumerated the number of incidents of deaths of manual scavengers in the state in the past and submitted a memorandum to the government urging it to provide full compensation to the kin of the deceased workers.
However, the Tamil Nadu government paid the compensation only to families of 59 deceased manual scavengers, they claimed.
When it was brought to the notice of the High Court that various aspects of rehabilitation of persons involved in manual scavenging and improving the system of scavenging in a sense forms part of the Swatch Bharat Mission, the court directed the Assistant Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to get the instructions.