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631 people died cleaning sewers, septic tanks in last 10 years

New Delhi: A total of 631 people have died in the country while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years, the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) said.

The figure was provided by the NCSK in response to an RTI query on the number of deaths reported while cleaning sewers and septic tanks from 2010 to March 2020.

The highest number of deaths were reported in 2019 at 115.

Among states, Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of such deaths in total in the 10-year period at 122 followed by Uttar Pradesh at 85, Delhi and Karnataka each reported 63 deaths and Gujarat reported 61 deaths.

In Haryana, 50 fatalities have been reported in the last 10 years. In 2020, two people died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks till March 31. In 2018, 73 such deaths were reported while in 2017 as many as 93 people died while cleaning sewers, the data showed.

In 2016, 55 people died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks, 62 in 2015, 52 in 2014, 68 in 2013, 47 in 2012, 37 in 2011 and 27 in 2010, it said.

The NCSK said the data is based on the information received by it from various sources and actual information may vary.

"Further, this is a dynamic data which keeps changing as it is updated as and when information is received by the commission from any source," it said in the RTI response.

An official said sanitation is a state subject and the NCSK maintains the data it receives from states and UTs.

Activists, however, said that such deaths continue to happen because of poor implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.

According to data presented by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry in February in Parliament, there are about 63,246 identified manual scavengers across the country in 17 states and about 35,308 have been identified from Uttar Pradesh alone. Parliament had enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which came in force from December 6, 2013. with agency inputs

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