[Answered] The practice of manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers has been, and will always be, as long as it exists, a serious concern in any country sworn to the humane treatment of all citizens. In light of the statement, critically examine the measures launched to end manual scavenging in India.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some measures launched to end manual scavenging in India. Also, write some existing challenges.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Manual scavenging is regarded as inhuman and a violation of the basic human rights. According to the Government data, 97% of manual scavengers are Dalits. The Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 had identified 180,657 manual scavengers (does not include urban India) with highest number of them in rural Maharashtra.

Measures launched to end manual scavenging in India:

  • Prohibition of the Employment of Manual Scavengers Act 2013: to eliminate insanitary latrines and also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
  • Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act, 1989: an important landmark to free manual scavengers from designated traditional occupations.
  • Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS): It aims to rehabilitate manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations, in a time bound manner.
  • National Commission for Safai Karmacharis (NCSK): established under the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993. The main aim is to promote and safeguard the rights of the Safai Karamcharis.
  • National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation: building capacity at the local government level, providing mechanized desludging trucks and financial assistance to sanitation workers.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission: It led to the construction of toilets with on-site sanitation systems like septic tanks and pits.


  • Data availability: Availability of accurate data is an issue. Many contradictions are found in government data itself.
  • Vicious cycle of Poverty: Specific castes are expected to clean dry latrines, and clear sewage for little or no income. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty which makes it difficult to switch to new occupations.
  • Half hearted Rehabilitation: The Government scheme provides for one-time cash assistance of Rs 40,000, skill development training, and capital subsidy for self-employed projects. But the lack of a reliable database makes these efforts pointless.
  • Poor implementation of laws:  There have been next to no serious legal proceedings against people and organisations accused of engaging workers for manual scavenging.
  • Existence of insanitary latrines: This creates a demand for manual scavenging and keeps sustaining the practice.

Way forward:

  • The government should look for technological solutions to reduce the prevalence of manual scavenging e.g., use of bandicoot robot.
  • Proper implementation of the rules and adequate monitoring are absolutely essential.
  • There is a need of community engagement and sensitisation to eliminate the caste based prejudices.
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