Khatima (Uttarakhand): India may have taken strides in developments, but even today, high in the mountains of Kumaon in Uttarakhand, women are employed to lift human excreta on their head.
For years, Lakshmi has been doing this inhuman job. And there are many like her, employed by the state for Rs 20 a day.
"We don't have any other job. They ask for a bribe of Rs 10,000 for a job in the municipality which is something we can't arrange," said Lakshmi.
"We don't like this job, but there is nothing else we can do," said Ganga, another worker.
It is illegal to let people carry human excreta. About two decades ago, the Central government had put a complete ban on it. It had ordered state government to take strict on against those who employ people for this work.
But state administration feigns ignorance.
"We don't know anything about the ban. We are hearing about it from you. We will definitely take some action against them," said DR BVRC Purshottam, District Magistrate, Udham Singh Nagar.
"Yes, it's a crime to do such work, and to make people do this work. It has come to my notice now, we will take necessary action," said Ajay Rajaur, Vice President, Health and Sanitation Board.
Not only has the Supreme Court raised questions and sought answers from state government by February 13, it has also ordered the Nainital High court to keep a close watch.