New Delhi: Unhygienic toilets will be made illegal and demolished across the country soon under a new law to end the practice of manual scavenging, the Centre on Friday said, warning of "strict action" against violators.
The President recently gave his assent to the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012.
"The law will be implemented immediately. A period of nine months has been given under which all unhygienic latrines have to be demolished," Social Justice Minister Kumari Selja said here, adding, "we will make unhygienic latrines illegal and the government will demolish them."
The minister said that according to the last census, 26 lakh latrines were found to be unhygienic. "Those who do not abide by the law will face strict action," she said.
The minister said that a law was brought in by the Congress government in 1993 but it was not as successful as the government had wanted as "we had left it to the state governments to implement it and it was optional.
"But this bill has been made compulsory and they (states) have to implement it."
Because of the earlier experience, the new bill was brought which is "more strict" and under which "we will conduct survey through the local authorities and everything will be transparent.
"If such a thing (unhygienic toilet) is found, the local authorities will be held responsible," she said on the sidelines of an event.
Selja lamented that the biggest problem with the earlier law was different states filling affidavits in the Supreme Court saying that they do not have the tradition of manual scavengers.
She maintained that the government is focussed on the rehabilitation of all those who were involved in manual scavenging and also rehabilitating their children.
It is the responsibility of the government and through this law, the people will be provided with jobs other than this, provided loans and education to the children, the minister said.
"The most important thing which the government is focussing on is its promotion and making people aware of the law. Modalities are being worked out by the government and it will be done across the country. A multi-pronged strategy needs to be adapted," Selja said.
It will be the responsibility of the employer to provide hygienic clothes, machinery and equipment to those working under them.