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NHRC issues notice to Centre, UP over plight of manual scavengers

NHRC issues notice to Centre, UP over plight of manual scavengers
Terming manual scavenging as the "worst example" of violation of right to life, the NHRC has issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government over reports of the plight of people employed in such jobs in the country, including 30 women in Meerut.

Taking suo motu cognisance, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the secretary, Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh.
The commission today said it has sought, within six weeks, a detailed report in the matter along with the steps taken or proposed to be taken to deal with the situation and measures employed for relief and rehabilitation of such victims.

"Narrating the plight of the 30 women manual scavengers in Radhna Inayatpur village of Mawana in the district (Meerut), of whom many have grown old doing this work, the media report, carried on June 15, says that they are paid as little as between Rs 10 and Rs 50 per month, per household to clean the dry latrines and sometimes, as a bonus, they are given stale leftover food and worn-out clothes," the NHRC said.

Due to exposure to filth, most of them have multiple health issues, such as vomiting, constant headache, skin and respiratory diseases, trachoma, anaemia, carbon monoxide poisoning and diarrhoea, including infections like leptospirosis, hepatitis and helicobacter, the commission observed.

"To avoid the stench, they often smoke beedis. One of the women has contracted tuberculosis, forcing her to stop working as a manual scavenger. The worst happens during rainy season, when the excreta slip from the basket on their hair and shoulders," the NHRC said, recounting the inhuman condition they suffer.

The commission goes on to observe that "The district Meerut is almost a part of the national capital region. If this is the picture of an area not very far from the national capital, one can imagine the scenario in the other parts of the country."

The news report further says that the Union Social Justice and Empowerment minister, on March 16 had admitted, in response to a Parliament question that "13 states and union territories reported identification of 12,737 manual scavengers till January 2017," the NHRC said.
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