NEW DELHI: THE Centre is likely to put its earlier plans of bringing in amendments to the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Act and Rule) on hold for now. Earlier, the ministry of social justice and empowerment had plans to bring in amendments to the Act in order to make it more stringent and clamp down on sewer deaths. The ministry has held a series of meetings with ministries of the rural development, housing and urban affairs, and drinking water and sanitation.
“There are no plans of introducing amendments to the Act at this point. A series of consultations has been held with other ministries, as well. The provisions of the Act are quite stringent. There are problems with implementation of the Act at the ground level which needs immediate monitoring,” said a senior official of the ministry of social justice and empowerment.
“The focus of the ministry will now be to ensure that the process of mechanisation is fast-tracked. Coordination between the Centre and states is required to effectively implement mechanisation,” said the official.As a part of the action plan being prepared, the ministry was planning to make authorities of civil bodies and more people engaged in employing workers accountable in case of deaths of sewer workers.
The law prohibits ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewer and septic tanks without protective gear and other precautions.