Shimla: As many as 801 sanitation workers have died while cleaning sewers in the country since 1993, said Manhar Valjibhai Zala, chairperson, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), here on Thursday. On a six-day tour of Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Zala said various states had been told to provide safety equipment to safai karamcharis for the cleaning of sewers. The NCSK chief said though manual scavenging had been stopped in many states, including Himachal Pradesh, 34,859 manual scavengers still existed in other states, including Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
These states had been instructed to rehabilitate manual scavengers after switching over to mechanised cleaning of sewers, he added.
Mr. Zala said he held a meeting with Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary BK Agarwal and other state officials regarding the condition of safai karamcharis in the hill state. He added,
I have come to know that 622 posts of safai karamchari are vacant in the state against the sanctioned strength of 1,365. I have directed the Chief Secretary to fill the vacant posts at the earliest.
Mr. Zala also instructed the Chief Secretary to constitute a state safai Karamchari commission. The NCSK chairman asked the state government to provide sucking and jetting machines to the municipal committees for the cleaning of septic tanks.
He also directed to ensure the door-to-door garbage collection throughout the state. Chief Secretary BK Agarwal apprised Mr. Zala of safety gears being provided to safai karamcharis.
The Chief Secretary directed the labour department to check the irregularities, if any, on the part of outsourcing agencies regarding wages and other financial benefits given to safai karmacharis. He directed to provide good-quality bags to them for carrying liquid waste.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.