The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis has ensured payment of mandatory compensation of Rs 10 lakh to 100 families whose members died as a result of manual scavenging, NCSK chairman Manhar Valjibhai Zala said Thursday. Speaking at the launch of a report on deaths of manual scavengers, Zala said nearly 600 cases involving deaths of manual scavengers have been reported during the past one and a half years. “We managed payment of compensation of Rs 10 lakh to 100 affected families.
The commission will intervene and ensure payment of compensation to the families in more such cases,” he said. The report based on a survey between March and July this year by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a coalition of civil society organisations, said not one family in 51 incidents involving 97 deaths due to manual scavenging was rehabilitated in alternative job, forcing them to become manual scavengers.
Interviews of family members and survivors in the 51 cases in 11 states also revealed that compensation was paid to the affected families in only 16 cases. It highlighted that in most of the incidents of deaths of manual scavengers during cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, no FIR was registered, more so not a single case was prosecuted.
Between 1992 and 2018, the report identified “a total of 140 incidents across 27 states with 205 deaths”. Among the states, Gujarat reported 62 deaths, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, 29 deaths each, and Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, 24 deaths each. “The number of deaths reported by us are lower than that reported by NCSK, because we were not able to cover more states due to logistical reasons,” said the convener of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan. Zala claimed the commission had no data on deaths of manual scavengers prior to his joining it as chairman in March last year. After joining, he directed officials to compile data on deaths.
“Within four months of my joining as chairman of NCSK, in Delhi alone 20 deaths were reported. We have ensured payment of compensation in all the cases,” he said. He said the commission, in collaboration with the Delhi government, is making efforts to introduce mechanised cleaning to prevent manual scavenging. Two hundred machines will soon be made available for cleaning of septic tanks and drains, he said.