Manual scavenging

Manual scavenging: Centre to make it mandatory for contractors to pay Rs 10 lakh in case of deaths

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry will conduct a survey in 15 states to determine the extent of the practice.

The Centre on Tuesday decided to amend the rules of the legislation that outlaws manual scavenging, to make it mandatory for contractors to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the families of those who die while cleaning sewers or septic tanks, The Indian Express reported. This amount is in addition to the Rs 10 lakh the state government is liable to pay in all such cases of death.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment made the decision at a meeting to review the implementation of the law banning manual scavenging. Data presented at Tuesday’s meeting, charied by Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, showed that states have reported around 13,000 manual scavengers, and only seven states have paid compensation for deaths in the past 25 years.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the ministry noted that “response by states has been very unsatisfactory”. While the seven states that compensated families reported 270 deaths, the Safai Karmachari Andolan estimated 1,560 deaths since 1993 – the year manual scavenging was outlawed.

Moreover, to redress the under-reporting of manual scavenging cases, the Centre has decided to conduct a nationwide survey to determine the extent of the practice. The National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation has six months to conduct the survey, covering 15 major states, to determine the number of workers who manually cleaning dry latrines, open drains, pits, railway tracks, septic tanks and sewers.

Safai Karmachari Andolan convener Bezwada Wilson expressed scepticism about the proposed survey. “The corporation would still be dependent on those very states that have until now denied the existence of this practice,” he said. “Also, the government has no mandate to demand data from the Railways, which is one of the largest employers of manual scavengers but refuses to acknowledge a single case.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Ola and not by the Scroll editorial team.