According to the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry,88 people have died in manual scavenging related deaths in the past three years.
The ministry has said that the number of deaths of sanitation workers while cleaning septic tanks and sewers has risen despite a ban on manual scavenging.
Further,among the 15 States/UTs that submitted details to the Ministry, Tamil Nadu had the highest number of sewer deaths followed by Gujarat.
Manual scavenging is the practice of manually cleaning,carrying, disposing of, or handling human excreta.
The International Labour Organization(ILO) distinguishes three forms of manual scavenging: a) Removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, b) Cleaning septic tanks, and c) Cleaning gutters and sewers.
Manual scavenging in India is prohibited under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. The law intends to eliminate insanitary latrines and prohibit employment as manual scavengers.It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
In 2014,the Supreme Court has made it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewerage work since 1993 and provide ₹10 lakh each as compensation to their families.