Enforce law against manual scavenging, SC tells states

The Supreme Court has ordered all state governments to strictly enforce the law eradicating manual scavenging, while directing them to rehabilitate the people involved in it.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam also directed the governments to take appropriate action against non-implementation as well as violation of the provisions contained in the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

The court issued a slew of directions, such as providing financial assistance to those included in the final list of manual scavengers under the provisions of the Act and giving their children scholarship as per the relevant scheme of the central or state government or local authorities.

It directed the states to allot residential plots, provide ready houses or financial assistance in constructing houses to those who worked as scavengers. Among others, the court asked governments to identify the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation of Rs 10 lakh for each such death to the family members who were dependent on them. It also directed Railways to make a time-bound strategy to end manual scavenging on the tracks.

“Sewer deaths — entering sewer lines without safety gear should be made a crime even in emergency situations. For each such death, compensation of Rs 10 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased,” the bench also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said.

The court deprecated that the practice of manually removing night soil in the absence of protective gear and equipment, brooms or metal scrappers, and carrying excrement to dumping sites for disposal was still prevalent in many parts of the country.

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