“There will be no manual cleaning of sewers anymore,” announces Nirmala Sitharaman

“There will be no manual cleaning of sewers anymore,” announces Nirmala Sitharaman
Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
  • Although banned in the 1990s, manual cleaning of sewers continues till date.
  • To help eradicate this, the Modi government has announced that it is working with urban local bodies to use technology to clean sewer systems.
  • Further, the government also announced ₹85,000 crore provision for the upliftment of scheduled caste and other backward classes, along with ₹53,700 crore for scheduled tribes.
Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that there will be no manual cleaning of sewers anymore. The government has identified suitable technologies and equipment for this task, and that it is working with local bodies for the adoption of these technologies.

“Our government is determined that there shall be no manual cleaning of sewer systems and septic tanks. Suitable technologies for such tasks have been identified by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs,” the Finance Minister said.

To make sure this policy is carried out effectively, she said that the ministry is “working with urban local bodies for the adoption of these technologies”. She further announced that the policy will be taken to its “logical conclusion” through legislative and institutional changes.

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Manual cleaning of sewer systems and septic tanks is a dangerous task and has claimed hundreds of lives. According to data provided by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, 123 workers were reported to have died between January 2017 and September 2018.

The job of manual scavenging has historically been undertaken by the Dalit community in India, which brings out the social inequalities prevalent in the country. Even though the Indian government outlawed the practice in the 1990s, it continues to happen even in 2020.

Sitharaman also announced a provision of ₹85,000 crore for 2020-21 for the upliftment of scheduled castes and other backward classes. Similarly, the scheduled tribe community gets a provision of ₹53,700 crore.

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