Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Parliament, on 6 September 2013, passed the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012. The Bill was moved by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja. The Bill seeks to prohibit employment of individuals as the manual scavengers, while at the same time providing for the rehabilitation of people involved in this kind of work.
Need for the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012
The need for the new law is there because the existing laws do not prove adequate in elimination of the evils of manual scavenging and insanitary latrines.
Primary features of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012
• Prohibition of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
• Prohibition of insanitary latrines, which include such latrines where human excreta need to be cleaned or other-wise, handled manually.
• The definition of manual scavenger has been widened to include a person engaged or employed, inter alia, for manual cleaning of human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit, railway tracks.
• Express provisions for identification of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines.
• Prohibition of hazardous manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, so as to ensure that health and safety of such workers is not compromised.
• More stringent penal provisions for contravention of the Act.
• Vigilance and monitoring Committees at the Sub-division, District, State and Central levels.
• Every local authority, railway authority and cantonment board shall be responsible for survey of insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction. The sanitary community latrines shall be constructed under the Bill.
• The occupiers of insanitary latrines shall remain responsible for demolishing or conversion of the latrines at their own cost. It will be the responsibility of the local authority to convert the latrine and recover the cost from him, in case the occupier fails to do as suggested in the Bill.
• The implementing authorities of this Bill will be the local authority and the District Magistrate.
• The offences under the Bill will be cognizable and non-bailable. These will be tried summarily.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 was introduced on 3 September 2012 in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mukul Wasnik. This Bill was thereafter referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, under the Chairmanship of Dara Singh Chauhan.
What is Manual Scavenging?
Manual Scavenging refers to the process of removal of human waste or excreta from the unsanitary dry toilets that do not have a connection to the sewer system. This practice is primarily archetypical to South Asia.
In the year 1933, legislation was passed in India for banning manual scavenging. However, the legislation was not implemented widely. In February 2013, Delhi became the first state in India to ban manual scavenging.