NHRC issues notice to TN govt on manual scavenging

Taking suo motu cognisance of a report on a worker cleaning a manhole without protective gear, NHRC has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu government, calling for a report in eight weeks on steps taken to implement provisions of Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 18, 2014, 14:25 PM IST

Chennai: Taking suo motu cognisance of a report on a worker cleaning a manhole without protective gear, NHRC has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu government, calling for a report in eight weeks on steps taken to implement provisions of Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act.

The report, with a photograph, showed a labourer cleaning a manhole without the gear on Santhome High Road here on October 25 after the city received heavy rainfall. Some labourers were reportedly spotted going down manholes to clean them that day, despite legislation prohibiting employing manual scavengers.

The report also claimed that the abhorrent practice continued unchecked in many parts of the city.

"Considering it as a serious violation of human rights, a notice has been issued to the Government of Tamil Nadu, through its Chief Secretary, calling for a report on the steps taken to implement the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 within a period of eight weeks," a National Human Rights Commission release said.

NHRC observed that manual scavenging violates the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution against discrimination on the basis of caste.

"It is considered to be one of the worst surviving symbol of inhuman and untouchability. People engaged in manual scavenging are Dalits who are still considered to be untouchables by many people," it said.

NHRC also said it viewed prevalence of manual scavenging as a serious intrusion on human dignity and abolition of this practice should be taken up as a National Mission.

The Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, seeks to ensure prohibition of employment of manual scavengers and it appears that the authorities concerned are "totally indifferent" to these responsibilities and allowed such inhuman practice, it added.