EQUALITY INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE
The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Mukul Wasnik inaugurated the two-day Consultation Meeting on Eradication of Manual Scavenging and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers here today. Speaking on the occasion, he called upon the States to work towards eradicating the shameful practice of manual scavenging by the end of the 11th plan. He regretted that despite various efforts made by the Central Government and the States, the practice of manual scavenging still exist in some parts of the country. The Meeting has been organized by the Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Urban Poverty Alleviation and Urban Development.
Shri Wasnik said that manual scavenging is a dehumanizing and degrading practice and rehabilitation of manual scavengers is an issue of human dignity, which we must address to our utmost capacity.
He said that the Government had implemented National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents (NSLRS) during 1992-2005. The Scheme started in March 1992 to rehabilitate manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations. At the beginning of the scheme, about 7.70 lakh manual scavengers and their dependents were identified. Out of which, about 4.28 lakh beneficiaries were rehabilitated, during its implementation. ‘Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers’ (SRMS) was launched in January 2007 with the objective of rehabilitating remaining manual scavengers and their dependents within a stipulated time frame. Under SRMS, identified beneficiaries were provided with loans at subsidized rate of interest for setting up self employment projects costing up to Rs. 5.00 lakh. Shri Wasnik also mentioned the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Children of those engaged in ‘Unclean Occupations’ and said that it was another important centrally sponsored scheme for educational development of their children.
The Minister also informed that the National Advisory Council (NAC) had recently recommended that the implementation of the law relating to the employability of the manual scavengers should be monitored at the highest level of the Central and State governments. The NAC will also monitor the progress in abolition of manual scavenging on a quarterly basis.
Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) has informed the Government that, it has conducted a survey and have furnished list of 4,833 persons still engaged in the practice of manual scavenging in 14 States. “We have already requested the concerned State Government to take immediate steps for their rehabilitation in alternative occupations”, Shri Wasnik said.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Shri P.L. Punia said that the States must adopt a mission-mode approach to eradicate this inhuman practice. He said that not only the people engaged in this profession but also their families should be rehabilitated. He also called for close monitoring of the funds being earmarked under the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) for the development of the SCs and said that it should be ensured that the money is not diverted for other purposes and should be deployed only for developmental works which directly improve the conditions of the Scheduled Castes. Shri Punia urged the participants to adopt a holistic approach towards the welfare of manual scavengers and said that their children should be provided education, given hostel facilities and special coaching to ensure that they can get jobs.
The Chairperson of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), Smt Kamla Gurjar regretted that the practice of manual scavenging still persists even though the methods may have changed and efforts should be made on a war-footing to ensure that this abhorrent practice is eradicated as early as possible. She said that sustainable financial support should be provided to such families so as to enable them to get sustainable employment.
The Members of the NCSK, concerned Central Ministries like Social Justice & Empowerment, HUPA, Urban Development and 11 State Governments, experts in the field and NGOs are participating in the Consultation Meeting to discuss various issues concerning eradication of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of the manual scavengers and suggest an appropriate strategy to achieve this objective.
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