Shillong: Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik on Tuesday said the north-eastern should prioritise the issue of unsanitary latrines, rehabilitation of manual scavengers and setting up of district disability rehabilitation centres in view of the Centre having prioritised these issues.
"The UPA government has it made these issues a priority at the national level. I urge the state governments in the north east to also take note of this and address the issue," Mukul Wasnik said in his inaugural address at the conference of state ministers for Welfare/Social Justice department of all north eastern states, including Sikkim, here.
According to the Union Minister, the 2011 Census data available with the government indicates that unsanitary latrines and manual scavenging in the north eastern states are on a "higher" side.
He said, available records of persons practicing open defecation or unhealthy latrines and manual scavenging in Assam is 1,10,000, Meghalaya 8,000, Manipur 41,000, Arunachal 13,000, Tripura 8,000, Nagaland 4,000, Mizoram 1,000 and 219 in Sikkim .
"We will have to address this issue. We are determined to provide rehabilitation to those engaged in manual scavenging as it was made a national priority. We also have a total sanitation scheme from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for conversion of unsanitary latrines into water sealed toilets," Wasnik said.
"When the Census data is giving us this information, there is no point in denying their existence. You have to identify the existence of manual scavengers and try to attend to their rehabilitation," Wasnik said.
On the district disability rehabilitation centres, Wasnik rued that of the 12 such centres mooted two years back, only one was functioning in South Tripura.
He said the Ministry was yet to get complete detailed proposals from Subansiri and west Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Cachar, Darrang, Sibsagar, Bongaigaon districts of Assam, Imphal West of Manipur, West Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya, South and West Sikkim.
The Union Minister also expressed unsatisfactory remarks over the delay in notification of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 by states in the NE.
Till date four states are yet to notify the Act. The Minister has also taken up with each state the appointment of tribunals, appellate tribunals and maintenance officers in accordance with the Act.