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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

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

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

22,81,49,892Cases
19,07,93,163Active
3,26,71,167Recovered
46,85,562Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,81,49,892 and 46,85,562 have died; 19,07,93,163 are active cases and 3,26,71,167 have recovered as on September 19, 2021 at 3:52 am.

India

3,34,48,163 30,773Cases
3,32,1588,481Active
3,26,71,167 38,945Recovered
4,44,838 309Deaths
In India, there are 3,34,48,163 confirmed cases including 4,44,838 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,32,158 and 3,26,71,167 have recovered as on September 19, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,18,502 3,391

51,472 530

63,28,561 3,841

1,38,469 80

Kerala

44,88,813 19,325

1,81,411 8,084

42,83,963 27,266

23,439 143

Karnataka

29,67,083 889

15,783 205

29,13,713 1,080

37,587 14

Tamil Nadu

26,43,683 1,653

16,893 50

25,91,480 1,581

35,310 22

Andhra Pradesh

20,37,353 1,174

14,653 144

20,08,639 1,309

14,061 9

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,652 9

193 2

16,86,572 7

22,887

West Bengal

15,61,014 728

7,967 41

15,34,406 757

18,641 12

Delhi

14,38,469 41

404 3

14,12,980 44

25,085

Odisha

10,19,621 695

5,929 689

10,05,564

8,128 6

Chhattisgarh

10,05,042 28

332 14

9,91,150 42

13,560

Rajasthan

9,54,246 8

102 2

9,45,190 10

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,715 13

143 11

8,15,490 24

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,386 6

97 12

7,81,772 18

10,517

Haryana

7,70,711 6

323 0

7,60,580 6

9,808

Bihar

7,25,881 10

65 0

7,16,158 10

9,658

Telangana

6,63,281 255

5,148 75

6,54,230 329

3,903 1

Punjab

6,01,236 30

316 7

5,84,453 23

16,467

Assam

5,97,709 365

5,063 102

5,86,856 465

5,790 2

Jharkhand

3,48,114 3

74 20

3,42,907 23

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,376 21

282 0

3,35,704 20

7,390 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,27,773 152

1,479 39

3,21,878 113

4,416

Himachal Pradesh

2,16,813 174

1,610 30

2,11,554 142

3,649 2

Goa

1,75,414 123

771 40

1,71,351 81

3,292 2

Puducherry

1,25,384 128

924 5

1,22,631 122

1,829 1

Manipur

1,18,261 140

2,180 92

1,14,251 228

1,830 4

Tripura

83,840 31

367 37

82,665 67

808 1

Meghalaya

79,325 119

1,876 76

76,075 192

1,374 3

Mizoram

79,171 1,104

14,456 161

64,456 938

259 5

Chandigarh

65,176 4

35 1

64,323 3

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,060 32

461 44

53,328 76

271

Sikkim

30,893 54

728 28

29,786 82

379

Nagaland

30,840 60

491 20

29,696 39

653 1

Ladakh

20,702

109 0

20,386

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

1 4

10,665 4

4

Lakshadweep

10,356

6 1

10,299 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,598 2

14 0

7,455 2

129

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