Manual scavenging still practised in Karnataka: Study

Manual scavenging has not been totally eradicated and those engaged in it are yet to be fully rehabilitated, the study found.

Titled "Mirage of social mobility: the case of Safai Karmarcharis in Karnataka," the study was conducted by Dr K G Gayathridevi of the Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources of Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore.

The study was conducted from a sociological perspective focusing on understanding the intricate social relationship and socio-economic mobility among the scavenging social groups, Gayathridevi said.

Field studies conducted in two fast-growing urban centres, Gulbarga and Tumkur, revealed that the heinous system is thrust upon poor and migrant Scheduled Caste families, the study said.

While in North India the Bhangi community are the safai karmacharis by caste and profession, in Karnataka the Mehtars and the Mangarodis are employed as manual scavengers, it said.

Most of the safai karmacharis are women but a majority of them lend their services on behalf of the menfolk, the study revealed.

"Thus, these women workers are marginalised and deprived of benefits reaching them directly," Gayathridevi said.

"These women are the bread winners in a majority of those households but still remain unsung and marginalised not only by outsiders but also by their own kith and kin," Gayathridevi said.

The study revealed that government efforts were not focused upon the community and mere reforms have not enabled social mobility which the community needs for its uplift, she said.

"The state has failed in implementing its own legislations enacted to protect the human dignity of this ... the study is an eye-opener," ISEC Director Prof R S Deshpande said.

The study also said each family in Gulbarga made about Rs 500 per month through manual scavenging.

Traditional system of zamindari practices was still in vogue with the karmacharis offering services to the upper caste households, it said.

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