Skip to main content

Manual scavenging in India to continue because of growth of toilets, 65% of whom are unsafe: Top UN official

By Rajiv Shah
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Leo Heller has expressed the apprehension that, despite a 2013 law prohibiting manual scavenging, the “generations-old practice of imposing sanitary tasks onto the lower castes” (Valmikis) would continue because of “the growth in number of toilets.”
In a preliminary report Heller has prepared for submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following his visit to India from October 27 to 10 November 10, 2017, he said, his assertion that manual scavenging will “continue to be practiced in a caste-based, discriminatory fashion” comes despite the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission’s “preferred technology for excreta disposal – the twin-pit latrine.”
Asserting that he himself met “a number of current manual scavengers in Uttar Pradesh from various districts (Mainpuri, Hardoi, Bareli, Firojabad)”, Heller said, “I heard from several family members, during meetings in Delhi and Lucknow, a number of relatives (husbands, brothers, and sons) that died during the hard work of emptying latrines or cleaning sewer lines, without receiving adequate compensations.”
Pointing out that manual scavenging exists in different forms in India – cleaning up open pits, septic tanks or sewer lines, with or without protective gear, in direct contact with excreta – Teller said, the Swachh Bharat mission lacks "a clear and holistic human rights-based approach".
He added, while surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017 by the Quality Council of India claimed that "approximately 91 per cent of toilets that had been built were being used", an independent assessment by WaterAid said, “Only 33 per cent of toilets were deemed sustainably safe (eliminating risks of contamination in the long term).”
According to the survey, said Heller, 35 per cent toilets “were safe, but would need major upgrades to remain safe in the long term, and 31 per cent were unsafe, creating immediate health hazards”, adding, “I observed several cases of abandoned or poorly maintained toilets.”
Teller noted the same thing in "Savda Chevras (Delhi), a resettlement site, where he visited “a community toilet that had no light or locks." Then, "In villages near the Thoubal Dam in Imphal, Manipur, local authorities had only partially constructed some household toilets and while the intended beneficiaries wait for them to be finished they have no choice but to defecate in the open."
In Uttar Pradesh, Heller found, villages and wards were being certified as “open defecation free” areas, but "I learned that in some places 'open defecation free' certified areas are often not de facto open defecation free."
He added, "In a certified 'open defecation free' village that I visited (Chinhat ward, Naubasta Kalan, Lucknow), some elderly people reported that they continue to practice open defecation for personal preference and comfort."
Similarly, "In Mumbai, the local authority identified 118 zones that were used for open defecation and built collective toilets within 500 meters of those areas. Yet, some residents in those zones still choose to defecate in the open due to habitual, cultural and practical reasons."
Then, Teller said, "I visited areas where open defecation remained the only feasible option. This was particularly true in slums and in rural villages and in resettlements sites, where community toilets were often far away or inexistent."
Thus, "In the non-notified slum Vinaykpuram (Lucknow), all dwellers defecate in the open. In my walk around the slum, I saw no functional community toilets close by and the only one dysfunctional toilet that was built two years ago."

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.