Human Rights

Abolition of manual scavenging gets priority under NAC

Ministry for Social Justice is finalising a plan to put an end to the humiliating and shameful practice of manual scavenging within the 11th Plan period that ends in March 2012. National Advisory Council, led by Sonia Gandhi, has asked the government to address into this matter on a war footing. 

At a two-day consultation meet jointly organised by the Ministries of Social Justice, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Urban Development, and attended by officials of 11 state governments, experts and a host of civil society groups. Four groups, were formed to expedite the process of abolition of manual scavenging at the earliest possible. The first group talked in detail about the scope and methodology of a new survey of manual scavengers. The second group discussed amendments to the employment of manual scavengers. The third group focussed on their self-employment and rehabilitation while the fourth discussed to formulate a plan of action for the states. According to Social Justice Ministry, “The ideas that have emerged during the group discussions will now be pursued by the ministries concerned with the object of producing a plan of action very soon. The ideas thrown up by groups one and three will be followed up by the Social Justice Ministry, the second by the Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry, and the fourth by the Urban Development Ministry.”

Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mukul Wasnik, said in an interview, “Rehabilitating manual scavengers is our ministry’s topmost priority. We have requested the state governments to make public announcements so that anyone still engaged in manual scavenging can come forward and report about his or her situation at the district headquarters, so that no one is left out.” The Minister claimed that during 1992-2005, the government has rehabilitated 4.28 lakh of the 7.70 lakh manual scavengers. In the year 2007 a new self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers was launched for the remaining scavengers.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 7

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