Difficulties faced by Safai Karamcharis & Government initiatives

Difficulties faced by Safai Karamcharis & Government initiatives

Question:-Around 225 Safai Karamcharis have died in the past six years, mostly due to health issues. Explain what are the difficulties faced by these people and also state a few government initiatives, which are taken to protect the Safai Karamcharis.

Though Safai Karamcharis are an important part of the society, they are considered to be the most oppressed of any community in India.

Metro are facing the major health problems like Swine Flu, Malaria etc. Safai Karamcharis acts as a significant aspect in maintaining a hygienic environment.

- Difficulties faced by the Safai Karamcharis

- Violation of Article 42 – Article 42 of the Indian Constitution provides just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. The absence of providing safety equipments like protective gear etc violates the concept of article 42. The hazardous conditions lead to an increase in the mortality rate.

- Health issues – In most of the areas across the country, the Safai Karamcharis are denied from their basic necessities. In order to create a clean and beautiful environment, they bear all the germ infested waste. They are not provided with the gloves or masks to protect themselves from the dust. Thus, they become a victim of heart diseases or asthma. They have to inhale the poisonous gases coming out from the garbage, which also affects their mental health.

- Road Accidents – Due to lack of safety measures, a lot of workers are prone to road accidents during the duty hours.

- Social Discrimination – The social discrimination against the Safai Karamcharis is abundant in the Indian society. They are termed as “kachrawala” by the people of our society.

- Economic security – Most of the Safai Karamcharis are facing a low level of economic security in-spite of their increasing protest regarding their demand for a hike in their wages. No jobs are alloted to the dependents of the workers who have dies in the past few years. The dependents are not being given any employment on the merciful grounds.

- Government initiatives to protect the Safai Karamcharis

- National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation – It is an apex institution body which was created for the upliftment of the Safari Karamcharis. It was set up in January 1997 as a non profit company under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Government of India. It tries to empower the workers and help them to live a life with dignity and pride.

- The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act – It was enacted in the year 1993 under the government of Narsimha Rao. The Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers or the construction of the dry latrines which are not connected to the proper drainage channels. Violation of the provisions under this act can lead up to an imprisonment of one year or a fine of 2000 rupees. The scheme was initially introduced in the two towns of Bihar and was later extended to Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

- National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers – It was implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the year 1992. The main objective of the scheme was to provide a dignified occupation to the workers in a time span of five years (1992 – 1997). It aimed at providing training in the identified trades for the scavengers and their dependents.

- Valmiki Malin Basti Awas Yojna – It was launched by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee (former Prime Minister of India) on 2 December 2001 at Hyderabad with an aim to provide shelter for the Below Poverty line (BPL) families in the urban areas. It tries to provide the physical infrastructure to the urban poor. According to the Census of 2001, the scheme is applicable to all the cities and towns except the areas that fall under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

- National Commission for Safai Karamcharis – It is an Indian statutory body which was established through the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act 1993. The main aim of the commission was to promote and safeguard the rights of the Safai Karamcharis.

- Safai Karamchari Andolan – It is a national movement which aims at the total eradication of the manual scavenging. It was initiated in the year 1995 and today, it has spread across 25 states of India. The objective of the movement is to rehabilitate all the people who are engaged in the work as manual scavengers across India.

Facts and Figures

- In the last six years, 1386 conservancy workers of Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation (BMC) lost their lives.

- BMC named Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador of creating awareness on Tuberculosis.

- Large number of people who die during the duty hours usually belong to the age of below 40.

- There are around 1 million manual scavengers in India. 95% of them are women.

- Since 2009, around 38 workers are dying per year on an average.

- National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation was set up in January 1997.

- The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act was adopted by 16 states as of 2002.

- The number of dry latrines in urban area is 54 lakhs whereas in rural area is 24 lakhs.
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