Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
03-September-2012 18:09 IST
Introduction of "The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012"in Parliament
Shri Mukul Wasnik, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, introduced "The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012" in Lok Sabha, today.

Elimination of dry latrines and manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of manual scavenging in alternate occupations has been an area of high priority for the Government. Despite the concerted efforts made in the past to eliminate the dehumanizing practice of manual scavenging, this still persists in various parts of the country. Existing laws have not proved adequate in eliminating the twin evils of insanitary latrines and manual scavenging. These evils are inconsistent with the right to live with dignity, which is an essence of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution. Further, there is a related problem of serious health hazard and safety of the workers employed in the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.

It is also felt that the existing laws are not stringent enough to eliminate these evil practices. In view of the above, there is a need to make comprehensive and stringent provisions for the prohibition of insanitary latrines and employment of persons as manual scavengers, rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families and to discontinue the hazardous manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks by the use of technology and for matters connected therewith.

With a view to eliminate manual scavenging and insanitary latrines and to provide for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers, a multi pronged strategy has been worked out which, consists of legislative and programmatic interventions.

With the aim to achieve the above objectives, the Government has prepared the above Bill and introduced it in the Lok Sabha, today.

Salient features of the draft Bill, inter alia, include:

i. prohibition of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of manual scavengers;

ii. prohibition of insanitary latrines, which include such latrines where human excreta needs to be cleaned or other-wise handled manually;

iii. 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 etc.;

iv. express provisions for identification of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines;

v. prohibition of hazardous manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, so as to ensure that health and safety of such workers is not compromised;

vi. more stringent penal provisions for contravention of the Act; and

vii. Vigilance and monitoring Committees at the Sub-division, District, State and Central levels.