Tamil Nadu to frame new rules for manual scavengers

With manual scavenging still prevalent in several parts of Tamil Nadu, the state will be formulating a new law against manual scavenging in the state. According to reports, 43 people lost their lives (as per records of the state government in 2021) while engaging in manual scavenging, however, the Safai Karmachari Andolan, an NGO working among the manual scavengers, has put the figure at 55.

The rules are to be framed soon under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The state government has also recently notified the re-constitution of district-level and sub-division level committees under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

The committees will be advising the respective district collectors on the measures to be taken to properly implement the Act and oversee the economic and social rehabilitation of manual scavengers in the state. These committees will be instrumental in monitoring the registration of cases under this Act. The Tamil Nadu Department of Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare that brought out the notification on the committees on manual scavenging will meet once a month.

In January 2022, three persons died in Chennai while they were cleaning the pit after consuming poisonous gases, as in most of the cases, the manual scavengers are not provided any protective gear.

In November 2021, five persons were employed by a contractor to clean the septic tank of a multi-storey mall and when one of the workers, Rajithkumar fainted, his brother Arunkumar jumped into the pit and saved him. But Arun fainted and died after inhaling poisonous gas. Later Rajithkumar revealed from the hospital bed that they were provided protective gears by the contractor but it was only for photo ops and after that, the protective gears were taken back and they entered the pit without any safety equipment.

All such offences will fall under the ambit of the newly notified committees.




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