#Action2022 campaign: Outlawed in 2013, manual scavenging still prevails in India

New Delhi: Despite being declared illegal by law, the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the nation leading to deaths of many sanitation workers due to the lack of safety equipment. Keeping the scenario in mind, an imitative — #Action2022 campaign was launched in several parts of India to urge government for taking necessary steps in order to prevent such deaths.

The movement started nearly two months ago with the placards of “StopKillingUs”. It has been carried out by the Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) in order to aware people and ask the government to put an end to the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewers or septic tanks.

The practice of cleaning sewer and septic tanks by hands, was declared illegal by the law under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

Meanwhile, employing the manual scavengers was already outlawed in 1993 but later in 2013, the definition of the term was broadened. The new definition of manual scavanegers now includes people hired for cleaning septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.

However, even after 2013, it is common to find people being employed as sanitation worker to clean sewer and septic tanks by entering into them.

As per media reports, over 2,021 people died, since 1993, in sewers or septic tanks across the country.

In the latest case of death due to manual scavenging, two sanitation workers died in Chennai due to asphyxiation by inhaling poisonous gases in the gated septic tanks. With this, the death toll of the death due to manual scavenging, rose up to 4 in one day, suggested media reports.

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