'Tamil Nadu needs to do more to end manual scavenging'

 Days after Tamil Nadu government notified halt of manual scavenging in accordance with a Central law, an NGO which fought for it today said several more features of the Act needed to be implemented like setting up of vigilance panels.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 17:38 PM IST

Chennai: Days after Tamil Nadu government notified halt of manual scavenging in accordance with a Central law, an NGO which fought for it today said several more features of the Act needed to be implemented like setting up of vigilance panels.

"Several features of this important Act need implementation on a war-footing to end manual scavenging," Change India Director Paadam A Narayanan, who went to court on the issue, told PTI.

In accordance with Section 7 of the "Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, Tamil Nadu notified March 15, 2015 as the date ending manual scavenging.

"No person, local authority or any agency shall, engage or employ, either directly or indirectly, any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank," the notification said.

"This was done after a delay of about 15 months," Narayanan said and listed things that needed to be done now.

Immediate steps should be taken to notify constitution of district level Vigilance Committees and State level Monitoring Committee as per Section 26 of the Act, he said.

Halting manual scavenging as stipulated by the new law depended on factors like elimination of open defecation, and building and using sanitary latrines, he pointed out.

Terming manual scavenging as a sourge, he wanted the state to launch a public campaign, and involve civil society and environmental groups to help end open defecation, he said.

"Sanitary latrines for those without homes, migrant population and travelling public are important," he added.

"We need to be innovative and promote

environment-friendly sanitation systems which consume minimum or zero water."

Rehabilitation of manual scavengers in tune with Sections 11 and 12 of the Act and compensation to those who died during work in manholes and septic tanks as per a Supreme Court direction are among other things which should be done, he said.