The Supreme Court recently held that the Union and States are duty-bound to the pledge to completely eradicate manual scavenging through the stringent implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
About Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013
- It was passed in 2013 to provide for the prohibition of employment as manual scavengers and the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families.
- The broad objectives of the act are to eliminate unsanitary latrines, prohibit the employment of manual scavengers and the hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks, and to maintain a survey of manual scavengers and their rehabilitation.
- No person or agency can engage or employ any person for manual scavenging.
- Any person or agency who engages any person in manual scavenging in violation of the provisions of the MS Act, 2013 is punishable with imprisonment up to 2 years, a fine up to Rs. One Lakh, or both.
- It outlines the provisions for the rehabilitation of sanitation workers and their families.
- After a survey of manual scavengers, the local administration must give them a photo identity card with details of their family members and monetary compensation. Their children must get a government scholarship, and they must get a residential plot and money to construct on it.
- It is also illegal for a sewer or septic tank to be cleaned by a person without the employer providing protective gear and cleaning devices and observing safety precautions.
- Under the Act, every local authority must make sure that there are no insanitary latrines in its jurisdiction and no manual scavengers are employed. A local authority is a municipality or a panchayat, which is responsible for sanitation in its jurisdiction.
- Local authorities must construct community sanitary latrines (which don’t require the manual removal of human excreta) and make arrangements for their hygienic upkeep at all times. They must also ensure the use of technological appliances for cleaning sewers, septic tanks and other such spaces in their jurisdictions.
- How do the states ensure the Act is implemented?
- Every state must have a monitoring committee consisting of the chief minister, the minister representing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and the director-general of police, among other officials.
- Every state government or union territory administration must send periodic reports to the central government about its progress on implementing this Act.
- The government has to ensure that local authorities and district magistrates implement the law. For this, a vigilance committee has to be set up at the sub-division, district, state and central levels.
Q1) What is Manual Scavenging?
Manual scavenging is an inhumane practice that involves the removal of human excreta from dry latrines, open drains and sewers using bare hands or brooms.