To Eliminate Manual Scavenging, Promote Mechanised Sewer Cleaning, Centre Launches ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ In 243 Cities

To Eliminate Manual Scavenging, Promote Mechanised Sewer Cleaning, Centre Launches ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ In 243 Cities

According to Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of hazardous cleaning
Manual Scavenging, News, World Toilet Day
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To Eliminate Manual Scavenging, Promote Mechanised Sewer Cleaning, Centre Launches ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ In 243 CitiesWith an aim to stress on safety and dignity of sanitation workers, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ in 243 cities on World Toilet Day
Highlights
  • The initiative was launched on the World Toilet Day
  • The initiative aims to eliminate manual scavenging
  • Manual scavenging was made illegal in India in 1993

New Delhi: With an aim to ensure that no person needs to enter a sewer or septic tank, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ in 243 cities across the country on the occasion of World Toilet Day (November 19). According to Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri the challenge will be focusing on mechanising all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by April 30, 2021 in all the select 243 cities. While launching the challenge via a webinar, Mr. Puri said that the mission of the challenge is to prevent any loss of life due to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks.

Also Read: “Manual Scavenging Is An Unconstitutional And Illegal Act,” Says Amitabh Bachchan As He Pledges To Join ‘Any Campaign’ That Works For Welfare Of Manual Scavengers

Addressing the webinar, Mr. Puri said that the move is in line with the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban and stressed on the safety and dignity of sanitation workers. He said,

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court expressly prohibit hazardous cleaning, i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures. Despite this, recurring episodes of human fatalities among those engaged in cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, typically belonging to the economically disadvantaged and marginalised communities of society, continue to be an issue of concern.

Also Read: Bandicoot, Sewer Cleaning Robot Wins Infosys Foundation’s Aarohan Social Innovation Awards

The minister also highlighted that the success of the challenge does not only depend on the intent and commitment of political representatives, bureaucrats or municipal authorities but also on the citizens of the country. He said,

Just like citizens have taken complete ownership of the Swachhata of their cities, their involvement in this endeavor is absolutely crucial.

Explaining about the challenge, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said that the challenge will focus extensively on creating citizen awareness on this critical issue along with infrastructure creation for mechanised cleaning and capacity building of workforce. He added,

A dedicated helpline number has been set up to register complaints and provide real-time solutions on desludging or sewer overflow. The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of Rs. 52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories. The virtual event saw the chief secretaries, state mission directors and other senior state and union territories coming together to take a pledge on behalf of 243 cities and gave their commitment to work towards preventing any deaths from hazardous entry.

While commenting on the initiative launched by the centre, Ramon Magsaysay awardee, Bezwada Wilson who has been fighting against manual scavenging for over 35 years said,

It is a welcoming step. However, a lot is still not known about the initiative. Who will receive the machines? Who will monitor? Who will be held accountable for the implementation? How will they give training? As far as I know, nothing has been worked out yet. The biggest issue is, the government has not yet identified the people involve in manual scavenging. Before launching the scheme, all these vital aspects should have been factored in. Even though mechanisation of sewer and septic cleaning is very much needed, the way this initiative has been launched seems to be a hasty act. Such piece-meal approach will not be effective in the long run. A holistic approach seems to be missing which is evident from the fact that till date the government has not been able to identify the manual scavengers.

Also Read: Manual Scavenging: 376 Die In 5 Years, Only Half Of The Families Given Compensation, Minister Informs Lok Sabha

The Evil Of Manual Scavenging In India

According to the Population Census 2011, manual scavenging, even after being banned, is the primary occupation of over 1.8 lakh Dalit families. As per the data collated by Safai Karamchari Andolan, about 1,760 people have died because of manual scavenging in the past 20 years. SKA’s estimates show that over 7.7 lakh workers have been sent into sewers since 1993 with complete knowledge and awareness of the dire consequences. There are nearly 26 lakh dry latrines across the country where humans are employed for cleaning excreta to earn their bread and butter.

The Central and the State governments have been taking steps to tackle the menace of manual scavenging including amending the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and enforcing a new Act, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The act provides for identification of the manual scavengers and rehabilitation them by providing skill training to them and enabling them to find alternative means of livelihood.

Also Read: Tiny Blockage Between Life And Death: Sanitation Workers In India Face Grim Working Conditions, Reveals A New Report

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

17,66,30,634Cases
5,80,25,717Active
11,47,82,895Recovered
38,22,022Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,66,30,634 and 38,22,022 have died; 5,80,25,717 are active cases and 11,47,82,895 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 3:30 am.

India

2,96,33,105 62,224Cases
8,65,43247,946Active
2,83,88,100 1,07,628Recovered
3,79,573 2,542Deaths
In India, there are 2,96,33,105 confirmed cases including 3,79,573 deaths. The number of active cases is 8,65,432 and 2,83,88,100 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

59,24,773 7,652

1,41,440 8,982

56,69,179 15,176

1,14,154 1,458

Karnataka

27,77,010 5,041

1,62,303 9,859

25,81,559 14,785

33,148 115

Kerala

27,48,204 12,246

1,12,792 1,456

26,23,904 13,536

11,508 166

Tamil Nadu

23,78,298 11,805

1,25,215 11,669

22,23,015 23,207

30,068 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,20,134 5,741

75,134 4,879

17,32,948 10,567

12,052 53

Uttar Pradesh

17,03,207 270

7,221 890

16,74,072 1,104

21,914 56

West Bengal

14,68,044 3,268

20,046 1,125

14,30,949 2,068

17,049 75

Delhi

14,31,498 228

3,078 148

14,03,569 364

24,851 12

Chhattisgarh

9,88,172 609

11,717 943

9,63,113 1,544

13,342 8

Rajasthan

9,50,133 172

5,619 848

9,35,658 1,006

8,856 14

Odisha

8,59,526 3,405

44,358 3,436

8,11,780 6,799

3,388 42

Gujarat

8,21,078 352

8,884 658

8,02,187 1,006

10,007 4

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,649 224

3,610 331

7,76,424 528

8,615 27

Haryana

7,66,357 228

3,703 374

7,53,584 564

9,070 38

Bihar

7,17,949 410

4,360 412

7,04,075 813

9,514 9

Telangana

6,06,436 1,556

19,933 528

5,82,993 2,070

3,510 14

Punjab

5,89,153 628

10,802 1,111

5,62,701 1,691

15,650 48

Assam

4,66,590 3,415

41,184 475

4,21,378 2,906

4,028 34

Jharkhand

3,43,793 184

2,646 416

3,36,058 596

5,089 4

Uttarakhand

3,37,449 274

3,642 266

3,26,822 515

6,985 25

Jammu And Kashmir

3,08,726 715

12,407 1,125

2,92,114 1,830

4,205 10

Himachal Pradesh

1,99,197 321

4,050 382

1,91,737 691

3,410 12

Goa

1,63,048 327

4,175 231

1,55,926 548

2,947 10

Puducherry

1,13,192 355

4,668 279

1,06,828 629

1,696 5

Chandigarh

61,200 40

486 21

59,917 58

797 3

Manipur

61,096 785

8,744 301

51,354 476

998 8

Tripura

60,385 536

4,886 65

54,870 596

629 5

Meghalaya

42,759 450

4,430 99

37,579 542

750 7

Arunachal Pradesh

31,938 290

2,849 40

28,934 326

155 4

Nagaland

23,854 101

2,972 229

20,423 327

459 3

Ladakh

19,649 38

552 20

18,898 57

199 1

Sikkim

18,659 209

3,239 67

15,136 273

284 3

Mizoram

15,899 268

3,637 45

12,191 312

71 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,473 9

61 2

10,408 7

4

Lakshadweep

9,297 61

484 36

8,768 96

45 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,280 11

105 4

7,049 15

126

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