Historic! After thousands of years, manual scavenging to end in India; govt to introduce automated cleaning

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Centre announced the decision on the occasion of World Toilet Day on Thursday.
  • The Ministry of Urban Affair will grant funds to civic workers for buying cleaning machines, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
  • In official usage, the word ‘manhole’ will be replaced with ‘machine-hole’, the minister added.

New Delhi: In historic move to end age-old practice of manual scavenging, the Union government has decided to amend law to make automated cleaning of septic tanks and sewers mandatory.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will bring amendments to Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act to end to the hazardous practice, which is believed to have existed since the beginning of the civilization in India, the Centre announced on the occasion of World Toilet Day on Thursday.

‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’

Furthermore, the Ministry of Urban Affair, under its ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ initiative, will ensure enters a septic tank or sewer line for cleaning it manually. The ministry will grant funds to civic workers for buying cleaning machines.

“We want the workers to own these machines so that these can be used by the municipalities when there is a requirement,” a report by The Times of India quoted Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

From ‘manhole’ to ‘machine-hole’

In official usage, the word ‘manhole’ will be replaced with ‘machine-hole’ for bringing a paradigm shift in the way the issue is approached, Puri added.

The PEMSR Act prohibits construction or maintenance of insanitary latrines, and employment of any person for manual scavenging or hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Engaging any person for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks by any person or agency is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine up of to ₹5 lakh or both.

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