NEW DELHI: A delegation, comprising parliamentarians, representatives of sanitation workers and civil society members, today called on President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in ending manual scavenging and avert "deaths in sewage pits".
"The delegation called on Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan demanding immediate end to the practice of manual scavenging and sewage deaths. The President listened to the concerns expressed by the delegation sympathetically," Safai Karmchari Andolan said in a statement.
The delegation, comprising CPI national secretary D Raja, JD(U) MP KC Tyagi and others, told Mukherjee that sanitation workers are "forced" to clean human excreta and enter septic tanks/sewage pits.
It also expressed concern claiming all the workers are Dalits and belong to the "lowest strata" of society. They have to bear the "social stigma" due to their profession as well as caste, they added.
Raja said the issue needs to be raised "politically as well" to ensure that no person dies in sewage pit anymore.
"This inhuman practice must be stopped," he said.
Tyagi said the issue of manual scavenging eradication needs to be taken up as aggressively as other issues in Parliament.
Besides Raja and Tyagi, the delegation comprised international jurist Usha Ramanathan, academician Imrana Qadeer, Safai Karmachari Andolan activist Maya Gautam, NFIW general secretary Annie Raja, journalist-author Bhasha Singh and Dalit activist Dr Renu.
The delegation also apprised Mukherjee of the ongoing nationwide 125-day 'Bhim Yatra', undertaken by the oraganisation, to highlight the problems faced by sanitation workers, marking 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar.
The yatra, which began in Dibrugarh in Assam on December 10 and will cover 30,000 km, culminates on April 13 in the national capital.