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SC orders abolition of manual scavenging, sets rehab norms

The Court said entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations.

ORDERING abolition of manual scavenging in the country, the Supreme Court Thursday directed all state governments and Union Territories to strictly implement the 2013 law for eradicating this practice and ensure efficacious rehabilitation of affected people.

A bench led by CJI P Sathasivam issued a slew of directions for rehabilitation of those involved in manual scavenging by providing cash assistance, education and benefits of other social welfare scheme.

“At least one member of their family shall be given, subject to eligibility and willingness, training in livelihood skill and shall be paid a monthly stipend during such period,” said the bench, adding that one adult member of the family be given subsidy or concessional loan for taking up an alternative occupation.

The people who were employed as scavengers should be allotted residential plots or constructed houses or money for such construction according to their eligibility and willingness, as per the order.

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The bench, which voiced for preventing future generations from the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, also laid down guidelines to check sewer deaths. It said entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations and for each such death, a compensation of Rs 10 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased.

The Railways should take time-bound strategy to end manual scavenging on the tracks and persons released from manual scavenging should not have to cross hurdles to receive what is their legitimate due under the law.

The court passed the directives on PILs by the ‘Safai Karamchari Andolan’ along with other civil society organisations and individuals belonging to the manual scavenger community. During the pendency, the government enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 for its abolition.

First published on: 28-03-2014 at 02:25 IST
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