A 2002 report estimates that there are approximately one million of them in India.
They are exposed to the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections that affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Tuberculosis is rife among them
Karnataka became the first state in the country to ban their activity, though even now, Bangalore alone is said to have around 10,000-15,000 of them.
Their activity has been banned since 1993 in India.
Though government offices and buildings in a State employ them.
The Indian government has spent Rs 6 crores in "liberating" and "rehabilitating" them since the mid-1990s.
A survey revealed that 95 per cent of them are women and girls.
They are Manual Scavengers.
pramod,idiot,busybee,downtoearth got it right
Scorcher,spark got it partly right.
Manual scavenging involves the removal of human excreta using brooms and tin plates. The excrement is piled into baskets which scavengers carry on their heads to locations sometimes several kilometres from the latrines.
Refusal to perform such tasks leads to physical abuse and social boycott.
They live in segregated colonies and are denied access to the local temple, religious community events, hotels, public water taps, and interpersonal social relations.
The scavengers belong to the communities like Valmiki in North, Bhangis in Gujarat, the Pakhis in Andhra Pradesh, or the Sikkaliars in Tamil Nadu. A survey found that they face severe discrimination even from other Dalits.
Legally, cleaning of dry latrines and transporting of human excreta has been banned since 1993. Under the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry latrines (which are not connected to a drainage system) can result in imprisonment up to one year and/or a fine of Rs 2,000. Offenders are also liable to prosecution under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Further, some of the initiatives taken up by the central government have misfired. For example, the welfare scheme offering educational scholarships (Rs 750 per child annually) to vulnerable families (those families involved in unclean occupations) has not been successful in MP. The scholarship stops the moment the family leaves manual scavenging - as they don't come in the vulnerable category.
Will this be just another data?
Why is the system in place even in Government offices? (Almost 94 per cent of village latrines in MP are dry. Therefore many goverment offices too use them)
And what about the utter callousness of the local governments? (In Ranpur gram panchayat in Gujarat, the manual scavengers had to agitate to get the authorities to replace their broken brooms.The panchayat, whose revenue at that time from octroi alone was Rs 13,00,000 per year, had replied that they did not have a budget to buy new brooms! )
What none of us wouldnt do even for 1 second, 1000000 do it Everday.
For none, can be this a career and life of choice
But if they have no choice,
Is it because the governments dont care?
Or because, we dont care?
To care or not to care is our choice,
Our choice - to give them voice