News: Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a Mobile Application “Swachhata Abhiyan”.
- Swachhata Abhiyan: It is a mobile application developed to identify and geotag the data of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers so that the insanitary latrines can be replaced with sanitary latrines and rehabilitate all the manual scavengers to provide dignity of life to them.
- Significance: This would help in rehabilitating all manual scavengers and replace insanitary latrines with sanitary ones.
- Manual scavenging: It is the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or handling human excreta.
- According to the 2011 Census, there are more than 26 Lakh insanitary latrines in the country and the existence of insanitary latrines is the main reason for manual scavenging.
Indian Government efforts to end Manual Scavenging:
- Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013: The key features of the act are:
- It bans manual scavenging and also discharges employees who are engaged in this practice on a contractual or regular basis.
- It widened the definition of manual scavengers by including it in all forms of manual removal of human excreta like an open drain, pit latrine, septic tanks, manholes, and removal of excreta on the railway tracks.
- It lays key focus on rehabilitating the manual scavengers by providing them with ready-built houses, financial assistance & loans for taking up alternate occupation on a sustainable basis, organizing training programs for the scavengers so that they can opt for some other profession at a stipend of Rs. 3000 and offering scholarships to their children under the relevant scheme of the government.
- The Act makes the offense of manual scavenging cognizable and non-bailable.
- It calls for a survey of manual scavenging in urban & rural areas and the conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines.
- It makes it obligatory for employers to provide protective tools to the workers.
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.
- Under this, manual scavengers are provided rehabilitation benefits which include
- One Time cash assistance of Rs.40000/-.
- Loans up to Rs. 15.00 lacs at concessional rate of interest.
- Credit linked back end capital subsidy up to Rs. 3,25,000/-.
- Skill Development Training up to two years with a stipend of Rs.3000/- per month.