The key findings of a study conducted by an NGO on sewer deaths across 11 states show the highest death rate of 37 per cent was recorded among people in the age group of 15-25 years.
The survey was conducted by NGO Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan. Among people in the age group of 25-35 and in the age group of 35-45, 35 per cent and 23 per cent death rates were recorded respectively, according to the findings of the report.
The findings highlight that rehabilitation schemes remain largely underutilised with family members of the deceased having no alternative source of income but engaging in manual scavenging in several cases. The study conducted between January to July has identified 140 incidents and over 302 deaths from 1992 to 2018.
Of the 140 incidents, the NGO study has covered 51 incidents in which 97 deaths have been documented in the report. -"The data is not reflective of the consolidated numbers of deaths across the country. A number of the identified cases for the study have been documented in depth in the report,-" says Ashif Shaikh, convener, Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan.
This research report points out that of the total of 51 incidents, compensation was give to families of the deceased in only 31 per cent of the cases. A profiling of the educational status of the sewer workers who died shows that 45 per cent of them had no access to education and 49 per cent of the studied till below standard 10.
The communities which were found engaged in cleaning and sanitation work in different states are Valmiki, Arunthathiyar, Dom, Mehtar, Matang, Meghwal, Rai Sikh and Hela, among others, according to the report.
While 94 per cent of the families of the workers who died belonged to the SC category, 4 per cent belong to the OBC category and 2 per cent to the ST category. The majority of the SCs belonged to the Valmiki community, shows the study.
The 2013 Act of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act outlaws manual scavenging, which includes hazardous cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
The report has also found that employers and local authorities who are supposed to provide protective gears and safety devices to workers, deploying a supervisor at the spot while the work was being carried out violated the clause in all the cases.
The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) has recently rapped the state governments for their laxity in dealing with local authorities.
For Graphics Key findings of the report ·®67% of the total deceased were married·®94 per cent of the deceased belong to SC, 2 per cent to ST, 4 per cent OBC ·®Of the 51 incidents across 11 states, 70 workers survived with injuries while cleaning sewer and septic tanks ·®In the 51 cases interviewed, prosecution did not happen in any of the cases.