LUCKNOW As 30 people have died in Uttar Pradesh as a result of dangerous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks in the last three years, Panchayati Raj Department has set up a separate fund to provide compensation to the relatives of these people in rural areas who are expected to have more sewers and septic tanks in the coming period.
The Urban Development Agency already operates such a fund as part of the Manual Scavengers’ Death Compensation Scheme for cities.
Following a Supreme Court ruling in 2014, the UP government had placed the Urban Development Department and the Panchayati Raj Department in charge of compensating the death of a person who died as a result of the practice of manual cleaning or dangerous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks died .
“Although the Urban Development Department already had the fund to compensate the relatives of people who died due to the dangerous cleaning of sewers, septic tanks, etc. areas,” said Manoj Kumar Singh, Commissioner of Agricultural Production (APC) and Additional Chief Secretary, Panchayati Raj.
The GO issued two days ago by the state government provides for immediate financial aid €10 lakh in each such case, as per the Supreme Court’s instructions. “A budget of €1.50 crore has been earmarked for the program for the current fiscal year and detailed guidelines have been issued to manage the fund, identify victims and distribute compensation,” Singh said.
In its decision of April 27, 2014, the Supreme Court had ruled: “Identify the families of everyone who died in sewage works (wells, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation €10 lakh for each such death to dependent family members.” The order applied to all states.
Pursuant to Section 2(1)(g) of the Prohibition of Employment as a Manual Scavenger and its Rehabilitation Act 2013, a manual scavenger means a person hired or employed by an individual or local authority or public or private entity to perform manual cleaning , carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling human excrement in an unsanitary latrine, or in an open drain or pit into which the human excrement from unsanitary latrines is disposed, or on a railway track, etc.
According to the Social Welfare Office, 105 people have died from accidents during the hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks in UP since 1993, although no deaths from manual cleaning (lifting human excrement from unsanitary latrine) have been reported. .
“Compensation from €10 lakh or less has been awarded to the families of all 99 of the 105 people who have died since 1993, while we have yet to locate the families of the remaining six victims,” said a senior official at the UP Scheduled Caste Finance Development Corporation. He said compensation of less than €10 lakh was awarded in about 30 cases where the victims’ families reached an agreement with the contractor, the department concerned.
It turns out that in 2019 alone, 26 people died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks in UP. While no such deaths were reported in 2020 and 21, the years marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, by mid-2022 four people had already died from the same causes in the state.
“Of the total of around 58,000 manual scavengers, over 32,400 were identified in UP alone in two surveys in 2013 and 2018,” the official said, claiming, “Now all have been rehabilitated in UP after the central government provided a single one. Time financial support from €40,000 in six equal monthly installments via DBT with the expectation that they will move to another job in the meantime.”