The government has caste-related data of 43,797 persons identified as involved in manual scavenging, and over 42,500 of them belong to the Scheduled Castes, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry said on Wednesday, December 1. Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said 42,594 (97.25%) of the people involved in manual scavenging belong to the Scheduled Castes, 421 to the Scheduled Tribes, and 431 to Other Backward Classes. While a total of 58,098 people involved in manual scavenging were identified in surveys, caste-related data was only available for 43,797 of them, he said.
"As per the information provided by the identified manual scavengers, caste-related data is available in respect of 43,797 manual scavengers," Athawale said in a written reply, responding to a question from BJP MP Vikas Mahatme. When asked whether the government has done any study on determining the religion and caste-based factor in manual scavenging, Athawaleâ€™s reply stated that no such specific study has been carried out.
However, surveys have been carried out as per the provisions of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 for identification of people involved in manual scavenging, Athawaleâ€™s reply stated. â€śDuring these surveys, 58,098 manual scavengers have been identified as per the criteria prescribed under the above Act. As per the information provided by the identified manual scavengers, caste-related data is available in respect of 43,797 manual scavengers,â€ť he said, proceeding to prove a category-wise break-up.
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Apart from SC, ST, and OBCs, 351 of the people involved in manual scavenging whose caste-related data was available belonged to the Others category. The break-up indicated that at least 73.31% of the total people involved in manual scavenging who were surveyed belong to Scheduled Castes. Among those for whom caste-related data is available, 97.25% are from Scheduled Castes.
When asked whether the Union government is planning to provide educational and professional reservations for the rehabilitation of people involved in manual scavenging, Athawale replied that there is no such proposal.
Manual scavenging, usually a caste-based practice, was banned in 1993, and made a punishable offence under The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. Anyone employing a person for manual scavenging, directly or indirectly, is liable to imprisonment for a term or a penalty which may extend to Rs 50,000, or both. The Act states that no person or agency shall employ, directly or indirectly, any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.
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