A Conference of State Ministers was held today on Complete Elimination of Manual Scavenging through Effective Implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013(MS Act, 2013). The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJ&E), Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot presided over the Conference. During the Conference concerned State Ministers from nine States viz., Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi, participated. Senior officers of 21 States/UTs also attended the Conference.
The Conference reviewed the action taken by the concerned States/UTs and Central Ministries for implementation of MS Act, 2013. State Ministers from nine States gave the status of action taken for implementation of the Act in their respective States and offered suggestions.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Gehlot exhorted the States for time-bound elimination of manual scavenging. He emphasised that the survey of insanitary latrines in urban and rural areas, as per the wider definition under the Act, need to be completed immediately. The manual scavengers servicing insanitary latrines should also be identified and assisted for their rehabilitation in alternative dignified occupations.
Shri Gehlot also pointed out that the surveys of Manual Scavengers and insanitary latrines in many States have not been conducted properly. The concerned agencies need to conduct fresh house to house surveys by undertaking visits to individual houses keeping in view the definition of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines as per the MS Act, 2013. As per the mandate of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan a special drive need to be started to provide facilities to all the people.
The Minister informed that the Government of India has already released one-time cash assistance of Rs. 40,000/- in the bank accounts of each of the 1359 manual scavengers, whose details have been provided to the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation by the States. He suggested States and UTs to forward proposal for comprehensive rehabilitations of Manual Scavengers already identified at the earliest, so that the Ministry could sanction rehabilitation package under SRMS though NSKFDC. He also emphasised that the hazards cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, prohibited under the Act, should be stopped forthwith.
Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Chairman, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis also attended the Conference. From the Ministry of SJ&E, Minister of State, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Smt. Anita Agnihotri, Secretary and Shri Anoop Kumar Srivastava, Special Secretary besides senior officials also attended the Conference.
Other participants included representatives of seven concerned Central Ministries, Non-Government Organisations associated with the elimination of manual scavenging, the apex Finance and Development Corporations for Scheduled Castes and Safai Karamcharis etc.