NEW DELHI: No person is currently engaged in manual scavenging but 158 persons have died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks in the last three years, the government said on Tuesday.
Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said there have been no reports regarding death of persons due to manual scavenging.
"However, as per reports received from States, 158 persons have died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks during the last three years," Athawale said in a written response.
No person is currently engaged in manual scavenging as per reports, the minister added. The ministry had launched a mobile app, "Swachhata Abhiyaan", to capture data on insanitary latrines still existing and manual scavengers associated with them after receiving reports from the social institutions that the practice continued, Athawale said.
"However, not a single insanitary latrine has been confirmed so far," Athawale said. Two surveys were conducted, in 2013 and in 2018, to identify manual scavengers and 58,098 manual scavengers were identified, he said.
Responding to another question, Athwale said as many as 321 people died due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks and non-observance of prescribed safety precautions in the last five years.
In 2017, 93 people died. In 2018, the figure was 70. In 2019, the number went up to 117 while 19 and 22 such deaths occurred in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Responding to another question, Athawale said presently there is no proposal to introduce 'The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.