Saturday, June 24, 2017

Of 1.82 lakh manual scavengers, Govt of India "identifies" just 7% beneficiaries, slashes budget allocation by 98%

Budget for self-employing manual scavengers falls drastically
By Our Representative
Much against the Government of India claim that it has provided onetime cash assistance 91% of the total manual scavengers it has identified across the country, 12,742, well-known data analysis site, “Fact Checker”, has said that it has done so “after not counting 93% of them.” In all, the the data, released in the Lok Sabha, show that 11,598 have been given cash assistance.
An analysis by Swagata Yadavar in “Fact Checker” says that the number of manual scavengers identified by the Government of India, 12,742, is “just 7% of the households with at least a single member engaged in manual scavenging, according to Census 2011.”
Out of 35 Indian states, only 13 states identified 12,742 manual scavengers, with the highest number identified was in Uttar Pradesh, 10,317, followed by Karnataka 726, Tamil Nadu 363, Rajasthan 322, Odisha 237, Assam 191, Bihar 137, Uttarakhand 137, West Bengal 104, and on.
There are 22 states where not a single person has self-declared to be a manual scavenger.
Official figures also reveal that, since 2013, skill development training has so far been imparted to 13,827 manual scavengers or their dependents, with just 658 beneficiaries involved in “self-employment projects”.
A government ad on providing cash compensation
to manual scavengers
The budget for self-employment, the analysis further shows, has been slashed from Rs 448 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 470 crore in 2015-16 to just Rs 5 crore in 2017-18, a fall of 98%. During the four years, only Rs 56 crore was spent.
Pointing out that the Government of India data have left out "93% of identified scavengers, who clean sewers and clear human excreta, an act illegal for 24 years now”, the analysis says, there are 1,82,505 households in rural India alone with at least one member doing manual scavenging, according to Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011.”
The site further reveals that there were 7,40,078 households where night soil – human excreta – was removed by human beings, according to Census 2011.
A manual scavenger is a person engaged to manually clean, carry, dispose of, or otherwise handle in any manner human excreta that is not decomposed. The practice, characterized by Mahatma Gandhi as “Shame of the nation”, was prohibited in 1993 by enacting the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.
The Act made employing a manual scavenger a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine. The 1993 Act also made it the responsibility of the citizens, organisations and the state to maintain sanitary toilets.
In 2013, Parliament passed the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, making states responsible for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers by providing them training, giving assistance, loans and even houses. It further prohibits dry latrines and other forms of insanitary latrines.
Under the Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) launched in 2007, 18 states and union territories identified 1,18,474 manual scavengers and their dependents for rehabilitation. As many as 78,941 beneficiaries found to be eligible and willing were provided loans.
After the enactment of the 2013 Act, an additional cash assistance of Rs 40,000 was announced to be given to each scavenger identified, and the loan amount was increased up to Rs 15 lakh for sanitation projects.
“Fact Checker” quotes the 2016 Magsaysay award winner, Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, the foremost campaigner fighting against manual scavenging, as saying, “There has been no survey conducted to find the number of manual scavengers in India in the last ten years”, adding, “It is left to the states to identify the numbers and many states have submitted affidavits in court saying there is not a single manual scavenger in their state.”
Wilson claims there are 160,000 dry latrine cleaners in India with 23,000 of them verified by photo, adding, these latrines require human excreta to be cleaned by hand, with manual scavenging being linked to the presence of dry latrines in the country.
“Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, most states are interested in constructing new toilets but not in converting dry latrines into sanitary latrines,” says Wilson, adding, “Madhya Pradesh has municipal corporations that are maintaining dry community latrines… this shows that their intention to abolish manual scavenging is not honest.”

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