Manual scavenging on in Gujarat despite being prohibited: CAG

Even though manual scavenging is prohibited in the country, there were several cases of it reported from Gujarat, a CAG report said on Tuesday.

PTI| Updated: Nov 11, 2014, 20:41 PM IST

Gandhinagar: Even though manual scavenging is prohibited in the country, there were several cases of it reported from Gujarat, a CAG report said on Tuesday.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, while pointing out the state of sanitation in Gujarat, said in its audit that though manual scavenging is prohibited, such cases have been reported from the state.

"Though manual scavenging has been prohibited under Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, several cases of manual scavenging were reported in the state of Gujarat as per the census report of 2011," the CAG's performance audit on 'Total Sanitation Campaign' (TSC) said.

The performance audit is part of a CAG report on local bodies run by the Gujarat government for the year ended March 2013, which was tabled in the Gujarat Assembly today.

CAG said that under the scheme guidelines of the TSC, which has been renamed as the 'Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan' in 2012, construction and maintenance of dry latrines and employment of manual scavengers is prohibited. The scheme has also suggested conversion of dry latrines into wet latrines.

"However, as per the Census Report of 2011, the practice of service latrines continues in the state of Gujarat as 1,408 cases were reported where 'night soil' was being removed by human beings and in 2,593 cases, it was being removed by animals in various rural areas of the state" the report said.

"Night soil" is the term used for human faeces removed at night from sewage tanks and used as fertiliser.

CAG also expressed concern over this social evil.

"The Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation as well as Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Government of India, expressed concern over this practice and directed the Gujarat state government to look into the matter during May 2012," the CAG report said.

The report stated that the Gujarat government had even assured the CAG of "appropriate and swift action" to verify "each and every case".

The Commissioner of Rural Development (CRD) told the CAG that the matter would be taken up with the District Collectors as well as the Social Justice and Empowerment Department for taking necessary action, the CAG report said.

However, the CAG remains unhappy about what the Gujarat state government did about manual scavenging so far.

"The fact remains that the Department could not even verify the concerns of the Government of India (GoI) about the existence of the practice of manual scavenging even after a lapse of more than one year, after the GoI had expressed serious concern over the matter," the CAG report said.