Skip to main content

Changes in manual scavengers Act seeks only technical solutions, 'has no rehab plan'

Counterview Desk

An open letter distributed by the Dalits Media Watch, which networks news related to underprivileged sections on the proposed amendments to the Prohibition of Engagement as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act, has regretted that it completely ignores to identify and rehabilitate the workers who had been forced by caste-based Indian society to engage in manual scavenging. 
Proposed to be sent to all members of Parliament (MPs) after seeking signatures from concerned citizens, the letter says, the amendment confines itself on “technological solutions” by talking about “complete mechanization of sewer cleaning and to provide better protection in work, the compensation in case of accidents”, ignoring “the lives and demands of workers.”

Text:

We the undersigned are writing to you to express our extreme concern over amendments being made to the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 (PEMSR Act 2013) without any form of public consultation.
‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ has been listed by the Government in the list of new Bills proposed to be introduced during the on-going session of the Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the existing Act which was brought in 2013 to put an end to the undignified caste-based practice of manual scavenging.
It is of particular concern to us that the existing Act has not only failed to put a stop to the daily occurrence of manual scavenging, but it has not even been able to curb even the most disastrous consequences of this inhuman practice in the form of death due to manual scavenging. Another stark failure of the Act has been in the near complete failure in identifying and rehabilitating those engaged in this occupation.
In light of such failures, there is a definite need to make suitable amendments to the existing Act. But unfortunately, the government has chosen to undertake this necessary process in a completely non-consultative and non-transparent manner. The text of the proposed Bill was not put in public domain and no comments have been sought from the public.
A document published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on its website in March offers no analysis of the reasons for failure of the Act. The changes suggested in the Act as part of this document mainly focus on the technological aspects of the problem, completely ignoring the imperative to identify and rehabilitate those workers who had been forced by caste-based Indian society to engage in this undignified occupation. 
Amendments to prohibition of manual scavenging and their rehabilitation Act, 2013  are being sought without any public consultation
In the legislative agenda, the purport of the amendment Bill is listed as ‘complete mechanization of sewer cleaning and to provide better protection in work, the compensation in case of accidents’. The absence of any reference to the lives and demands of the workers suggests that even the proposed Bill may be narrowly focused on technological solutions.
Any process of reform in the law should necessarily begin with the workers engaged in this occupation and the proposed changes should be available in all Indian languages to enable full democratic participation from all citizens. Public consultation processes would have offered a necessary corrective to these and other posing lacunae in the amendment Bill.
Several groups have been working on different aspects of manual scavenging. Their inputs, based on their own experiences and interactions with workers, over the last several years, would strengthen and add value to the process of amending the Bill. It is also keeping with the process of consultation.
Hence, we urge you, as representatives of the people of the country, to demand that this amendment Bill be either sent back to the Ministry for public consultation or be referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee, so that we the people get an opportunity, based upon our grassroots experience, to enrich the Amendment Bill with the much-needed but missing concepts and provisions.

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).