Official survey acknowledges presence of manual scavenging in Indian capital

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Going against previous official claims, a new survey at Indian national capital has acknowledged the prevalence of the inhuman practice of manual scavenging in the city, as it puts the number of manual scavengers at 32.

According to Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, the survey may have failed to capture the full picture as the number of manual scavengers “appear on the lower side”, The Indian Express reported.

The survey was conducted under the supervision of district magistrates. While the numbers were reported from the east and the northeast districts, employed by private contractors, rest of the districts reported that they could not find any manual scavengers.

“The numbers in Delhi are not huge, but they should increase a little from what the survey found,” the minister told IE.

Manual scavenging is highly underreported in India’s official records.

When the central Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment told the lower house of the national parliament on July that 13 states had reported the practice and they identified 13,657 manual scavengers up to June 30, 2018, Delhi’s name was not there in the list.

The ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ bans cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, apart from manual handling of excreta. It also mandates official bodies to conduct surveys to find the scale of the practice.

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