The initiative, that promotes mechanized cleaning, aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of 'hazardous' cleaning
NEW DELHI :
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday launched the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge, aimed to ensure that no person needs to enter a sewer or septic tank, unless absolutely unavoidable in the interest of greater public hygiene. The initiative, that promotes mechanized cleaning, also aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of 'hazardous' cleaning.
The virtual event witnessed participation of representatives from 243 cities across the country, coming together to take a pledge to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021. The initiative was launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day.
The initiative is in line with PM Modi’s vision, who has always placed the safety and dignity of sanitation workers at the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U), Puri said during the launch.
“The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of Hon'ble Supreme Court expressly prohibit hazardous cleaning, i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures. Despite this, recurring episodes of human fatalities among those engaged in cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, typically belonging to the economically disadvantaged and marginalized communities of society, continue to be an issue of concern," Puri said adding that the success of the challenge does not only depend on the intent and commitment of political representatives, bureaucrats or Municipal authorities but also on the citizens of the country.
According to reports, India still continues to witness over hundred deaths per year due to manual scavenging.
Explaining the contours of the Challenge, Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA said “The Challenge will focus extensively on creating citizen awareness on this critical issue along with infrastructure creation for mechanized cleaning and capacity building of workforce. Along with this, a dedicated helpline number has been set up to register complaints and provide real-time solutions on desludging or sewer overflow. The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021." Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of ₹52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.