Manual scavenging must be banned: Meira Kumar

Jairam Ramesh bats for Bill pending in Parliament

 Describing manual scavenging as despicable, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said caste system and untouchability have given rise to such a practice in the county.

Addressing a 2-day national workshop on Sociology of Sanitation - Environmental Sanitation, Public Health and Social Deprivations on Wednesday, Meira Kumar said unless society cleanse its mind of all ills, no amount of effort can get rid of such practices.

Emphasising for a nationwide social campaign to eradicate manual scavenging Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh urged the Speaker to allow early passage of bill to curb manual scavenging. The prohibition of employment as manual scavengers and their rehabilitation bill 2012 introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament in 2012 aims to prohibit the practice and bar manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers across the country. Engaging manual scavengers will be illegal once the Act comes into force.

The state governments, within a year of its commencement, will prohibit employment of persons for manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers and give them protective gear or use modern cleaning technology.
Ramesh said states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh will need at least 10 years to ensure total sanitation.

“Unless the liberated scavengers are given alternative jobs, the purpose of the exercise will be defeated. They have to be given proper employment after imparting them some vocational training,” the minister said.
Sulabh international centre for action Sociology had organised the workshop in collaboration with sulabh international social service organisation.

Founder of the organisation, Bindeshwar Pathak said sanitation as a paper should be included in Sociology.
“The inclusion of the subject as one of the disciplines will help in solving problems related to sanitation, social deprivation, water, public health, hygiene, poverty, gender equality, welfare of the children and empowering knowledge for sustainable development,” he said.

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