Union Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot on Thursday said the central was keen on eradicating manual scavenging in a time-bound manner, urging states to implement the relevant law in letter and spirit.
Mr Gehlot also asked state governments to take steps for total mechanisation of septic tanks and sewers to prevent deaths during manual scavenging, according to an official statement.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 aims to eliminate manual scavenging in all its manifestations and seeks rehabilitation of the identified manual scavengers.
As many as 13,657 manual scavengers have been identified in 13 states, the Minister said in Delhi at the sixth meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee that reviewed the implementation of the law.
Mr Gehlot asked states to revisit their survey by using the wider definition of manual scavenging as given in the Act to ensure that all the persons who are cleaning un-decomposed septage manually were identified and listed as manual scavengers.
Although hazardous cleaning of septic tanks is prohibited under the Act, a number of deaths have been reported from time to time and such cases are taken up with the concerned state governments for payment of compensation of Rs 10 lakh as per a Supreme Court order.