One manual scavenging death every five days: Official data


  • SINCE JANUARY 1, 2017, one person has died every five days, on an average, while cleaning sewers and septic tanks across the country, according to numbers collated by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), the statutory body that was set up by an Act of Parliament for the welfare of sanitation workers.

About the data:

  • The data, which is based mostly on newspaper reports and numbers supplied by a few state governments, is the first such official attempt to account for the deaths of sewer and septic tank cleaners.
  • According to NCSK, 123 people employed in hazardous forms of manual scavenging lost their lives while at work since January 2017.
    • The last one week alone has seen a total of six deaths in the National Capital Region.
    • There are no numbers available on those employed in sewer and septic tank cleaning.
    • All previous and ongoing exercises at compiling data have been restricted to accounting for those removing human excreta from dry latrines, open drains, and single pit toilets in villages.
    • In the reported instances are high in:
      • Haryana
      • Uttar Pradesh
      • Delhi
      • Gujarat
    • The NCSK data shows Maharashtra as having had just two deaths in this period.
    • As per NCSK data, the Rs 10 lakh compensation that is mandated under the law in case of manual scavenging deaths, has been paid in only 70 of the 123 cases.

About National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK)

  • NCSK was constituted on 12th August 1994.
  • It is a statutory body.
  • Under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The Chairperson and Members of the Commission undertake extensive touring of the country to study the socio-economic and living conditions of Safai Karamcharis and their dependents.
  • During their visits, the members of the Commission interact with the Safai Karamcharis- both individually as well as through their representative associations.
  • The grievances of the Safai Karamcharis are then taken up by the Commission with the concerned local civil and police authorities.
  • Based on its findings, the Commission gives its recommendations for rehabilitation and liberation of Safai Karamcharis from the scourge of manual scavenging to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from time to time as well as in its Annual Reports.

Source: Indian Express

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