NEW DELHI: The National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) will be writing to 500 municipal corporations across the country in order to proactively push for mechanisation of sewage and septic tank cleaning.
Despite the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, which outlaws manual scavenging, contractors are brazenly flouting the rules in most states.
States have reported deaths of manual scavengers while cleaning septic and sewer tanks. In most cases, the sanitation workers are not given any protective gear by the contractors.
The letter will invite the different municipal corporations to approach the NSKFDC for skill development and training of workers in mechanisation. "We would be inviting the municipal corporations to come forward for attending workshops in skill development and training of their workers in mechanised cleaning. We would be inviting different municipal corporations in batches to effectively undertake to impart the skill training programmes," said a senior NSKFDC official.
The corporation conducted five workshops in October. It had earlier written to the civic agencies in 2017 on the issue and had sent "reminder letters" thrice since to invite municipal corporations to put an end to hazardous cleaning, the official said. This is a step to prevent sewer and septic tank deaths that are being reported from across India.
Currently, there is a significant gap in the awareness level among employers and contractors who engage manual scavengers and the implementation of the law prohibiting manual scavenging, say experts.
"There is an immediate need to increase the awareness level of corporations and to sensitise the contractors of the external agencies on the issue to put an end to hazardous cleaning," said the official.
The NSKFDC is the nodal agency under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which is conducting a survey to identify manual scavengers. So far, it has recognised over 23,000 manual scavengers from among over 53,000 workers who registered themselves. The Commission is yet to compile data from some states where the survey was undertaken.