From: Shiva Shankar <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 6:29 PM
Subject: Safai karamcharis in Karnataka
'... Thousands of safai karamcharis, who were engaged in handling the
night soil manually, clearing chocked drain with minimum equipment,
and gathering night soil collected on railway platforms were
succumbing to diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer. The
Chairperson of the National Safai Karamchari Commission, Santhosh
Choudhry, rightly pointed out that life expectancy of a safai
karamchari was only 45 years. ...'
Safai karamcharis seek alternative jobs
State Government is not using the funds released for rehabilitation of
Mysore: The Karnataka State Safai Karamchari Nirmoolana Mahasamsthe
here on Thursday has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to direct the
State Government to create alternative jobs for safai karamcharis and
their dependents as assured by him in the 11th Plan.
Addressing presspersons, Peddanna, State president of the mahasamsthe,
said a memorandum detailing the plight of the safai karamcharis, who
are engaged in manual collection of night soil, would be submitted
shortly to the Prime Minister in New Delhi. Mr. Manmohan Singh
declared that the Government was committed to eradicate the obnoxious
and inhuman practice of manual collection of night soil. Mr. Manmohan
Singh said that safai karamcharis engaged in such work would be
provided with alternative employment by 2012. However, the Karnataka
State Government was doing nothing to eradicate the practice. Instead
the safai karamcharis were continued to be engaged by the State
Government in manual collection of night soil.
The number of safai karamcharis who were engaged in collection of
night soil was estimated at 6.76 lakh* in the country while 2.8 lakh
of the karamcharis were in Karnataka. Even after over 60 years after
the country became independent, the socio-economic conditions of the
safai karamcharis had not improved. This was undoubtedly a blot on the
country which was emerging as an important economic power, he added.
Despite passing the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction
of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act - 1993 to liberate the safai
karamcharis from the obnoxious practice of carrying night soil
manually, the State Government had done nothing to liberate them.
Instead the State Government was filing "false" affidavits to the
Union Government, Supreme Court and the National Human Rights
Commission on eradication of the practice, he alleged.
Thousands of safai karamcharis, who were engaged in handling the night
soil manually, clearing chocked drain with minimum equipment, and
gathering night soil collected on railway platforms were succumbing to
diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer. "The Chairperson of the
National Safai Karamchari Commission, Santhosh Choudhry, rightly
pointed out that life expectancy of a safai karamchari was only 45
Although the Centre released Rs. 400 crore in the 10th Plan for the
rehabilitation of safai karamcharis, the State Government spent only
Rs. 146 crore. The State Government exhibited similar apathy while
spending Rs. 500 crore released in 2007 for the purpose. Same was the
case with the 18 per cent funds earmarked in the civic bodies for the
purpose, he regretted.
Mr. Peddanna suggested that members of the Karnataka State Safai
Karamchari Nirmoolana Mahasamsthe should be included in the
Rehabilitation Committee. He said the funds released for the
rehabilitation of the safai karamcharis should be utilised fully.
* These are government estimates. Safai Karamcahri Andolan estimates
that over 12 lakh people work as 'scavengers'.
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