443 lives lost: The grim reality of sewer cleaning in India

As of November 20 this year, 49 people have died due to improper cleaning of sewers and septic tanks

NEW DELHI: As many as 49 people have died due to unsafe sewerage and septic tank cleaning till November 20 this year, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ramdas Athawale revealed. While discussing this alarming statistic, he also highlighted the human cost of a hazardous occupation that continues to claim lives across the country.

The data reveals a shocking tragedy: more than 400 deaths have been reported since 2018. The figure includes 76 deaths in 2018, 133 in 2019, 35 in 2020, 66 in 2021, 84 in 2022 and 49 as of November 20 in 2023. These figures shed light on the ongoing dangers faced by those engaged in manual scavenging, a practice officially banned by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.

READ MORE: NIA's attack on affiliates of banned terror groups in J&K

The recent revelation prompted Trinamool Congress member Aparupa Poddar to look for state-by-state details on these deaths and came across a disturbing reality. This year alone, Rajasthan reported the highest number of deaths (10), followed by Gujarat (9), with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu witnessing seven tragic cases each.

The gravity of the situation goes beyond the tragic statistics. In the National Survey of Manual Scavengers initiated in 2018 on behalf of the NITI Aayog, a total of 44,217 manual scavengers were identified. Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 20,884 cases, followed by Maharashtra (6,325), Uttarakhand (4,854), Assam (3,771), Rajasthan (2,340) and Karnataka (2,238).

ALSO READ: Who is Rohit Godara, the Canadian gangster behind Gogamedi's murder?

Highlighting the legal framework against manual scavenging, Athawale stated: “As per the ban on employment as manual scavengers and the Rehabilitation Act of 2013, manual scavenging is a prohibited activity in the country.” However, the grim reality remains and highlights the need for stricter enforcement and more proactive ones Measures.

The heartbreaking number of lives lost underscores the urgency of a paradigm shift in cleaning sewers and septic tanks. The introduction of manhole cleaning robots, such as those proposed by authorities in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala, could be a transformative solution. However, the lack of data on their use raises questions about the effectiveness of such initiatives.

You might also like

Comments are closed.