A day after Rahul Gandhi voiced his concern about manual scavengers, government today announced a slew of measures including houses to them under Indira Awas Yojana and loans with lesser interest rate for the self-help groups run by women liberated from the age-old practice.
For those who have been socially ostracised for being manual scavengers, Parliament's passage of the anti-manual scavenging has given them a fresh start.
Parliament's approval to the Bill banning manual scavenging will come in for scrutiny of the Supreme Court which will examine the bill's contents.
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja moved the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 in the Lok Sabha. It was passed after a short discussion.
The almost three-decade long Safai Karmachari Andolan stands testament to the indefensible apathy of our political class and governments to the plight of manual scavengers.
The Cabinet approved some amendments in the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012, which also included making adequate protective arrangements for workers cleaning septic tanks to save them from any bodily harm.
Expressing serious concern over diversion of funds meant for welfare of SCs and STs, Union Social Justice and Empower Minister Kumari Selja today said the Centre is considering a law to check it
The Standing Committee reported to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in March 2013 and this bill will now be introduced in Parliament.
The Chief Minister made the announcement while addressing a function organised by Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
Terming manual scavenging as "despicable", Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Monday called on society to cleanse its mindset to get rid of such practices.
The disregard of our establishment to the issue, that makes our country look like a shit-hole to the rest of the world, is not new: manual scavenging has been banned in India by law for 19 years now, but the country cannot live without this vulgarity.
The government, said it would soon be able to enact the law as the bill has already been introduced in Parliament and is pending before a Standing Committee of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The Supreme Court pulled up the Haridwar district magistrate for not taking action for abolishing the practise and to rehabilitate manual scavengers in the district.
The Prime Minister said the government would provide opportunities to those engaged in manual scavenging to begin their lives afresh.
Firstpost spoke to Wilson Bezwada, founder and national convener of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, dedicated to eradicating manual scavenging in India, on the role of laws in this movement and why the government cannot be wished away.
Despite promises made to the Supreme Court and actor Aamir Khan, the government doesn't seem likely to pass the law banning manual scavenging in this session of Parliament.
Among other things, the scavengers are demanding alternate and dignified jobs, decent housing and education.