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India begins groundwork for 100% mechanised sewer cleaning

Municipal corporations have been asked to submit proposals

While the draft law on manual scavenging that proposes mechanising the process of cleaning sewers and septic tanks awaits Cabinet approval, the social justice ministry has already started the groundwork for the same, The Print reported.

According to R. Subrahmanyam, secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, municipalities and corporations that can completely mechanise the process of sewer cleaning have been asked to send their proposals. The ministry will then identify those who need subsidies to buy mechanised sewer cleaning machines.

“Two months back there was a meeting with municipal commissioners and 200 of them said they are ready to make their municipalities completely mechanical. We have asked them to send their proposal,” Subrahmanyam said.

The draft Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, proposes to completely mechanise the process of cleaning sewers and septic tanks and provides a legal basis for compensation to be provided for fatalities. According to the draft law, the district authority will have to ensure that basic safety is followed and prosecutions are done in case of violations.

A National Policy for a mechanised sanitation ecosystem has also been formulated by the social justice ministry, in coordination with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which came out in March 2020.

Under the policy, the ministry is trying to help safai karmacharis buy new equipment to aid the mechanisation process.

“Most importantly, it is necessary to implement Swacchta Udayami Yojana scheme to finance safai karmacharis to buy equipment for which we will give capital subsidy upto Rs 3.75 lakh per safai karmachari. With that, they can buy machines, which may cost between Rs 6 to 15 lakh,” said Subrahmanyam.

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