How Does Mangaluru Manage Waste? No Manual Scavenging
Mangaluru: The Mangalore City Corporation is doing a wonderful task in managing waste. The population in the Mangaluru City Corporation limits in the year 2011 was around 499,487 lakhs. Mangaluru City Corporation has 60 corporation wards where every day there are people who clear the waste and keep the city very clean. Mysore is the number one clean city and Mangaluru is competing to become number one. The contract for cleaning household waste has been given to Anthony Waste Management. There are about 800 people working for Anthony Waste Management, to clean the whole city. The manager of Anthony Waste Management says that all the waste collected is taken to Vamanjoor dump yard, where it is further segregated to degradable and non-degradable waste.
According to Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011- 180,657 households are engaged in manual scavenging for their livelihood. Manual scavenging is still practised in the state of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur, and Karnataka. Manual scavenging is done with basic tools like boards and either buckets or basket lined with sacking and carried on the head. Due to the nature of the job, many of the workers have lost their lives and many others are suffering from serious health problems.
The Employment of Manual Scavengers to empty “dry-toilets” was prohibited in India in 1993, and the law extended and clarified to include unsanitary latrines, ditches, and pits in 2013. Unfortunately, on March 26, 2013, even though the practice of manual scavenging was stopped one such incident was reported in Mangaluru city. As reported in a Local edition of the National Daily newspaper, “A resident of Kodikal, Sundara K, 35, was found cleaning a block drenching himself in the night soil. Sundara was an employee in the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC). Sundara stated to the newspaper that he agreed to do the job only for the sake of earning money. The Daily also stated that residents staying in that area had reported the matter to the local corporater that the toilets of 14 houses in the area were clogged due to blockage in the chamber since a week”.
“The corporation authorities did not respond to the complaints, even though the issue was brought to the notice of the local corporator. A team of officials and workers had checked the spot and refused to take this case citing technical reasons saying,” The cleaning of blocks in the Underground Drainage (UGD) chamber does not come under their purview. The Joint Commissioner, who arrived at the spot stated that they did not receive any complaints from the residents. Assistant executive engineer, Ganesh had filed a complaint in the Mangalore East police station regarding this issue.
According to Vishalnath the Head of Underground Drainage Department in Mangalore City Corporation, manual scavenging was done by the Dalits who had no other option than doing this work as they were not educated. These people had to go door to door to collect human waste. They work long hours and get paid only Rs 300. They work without safety equipment due to which they suffer various health issues like: breathing problems, heart problems, poor eyesight and in some case there is a possibility that they even die. Vishalnath an officer in Mangaluru City Corporation who is the Head of UGD said that manual scavenging which was practised since ages is now stopped. Nowadays, there is sewage suctions pipes that can easily clean the gutters and blockages in the sewage lines.
On September 2013, the government passed a new legislation and issued notification for the same issue. In December 2013 the government has formulated Rule-2013 called as ”The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules-2013” or “M S Rules-2013”. The hearing on 27 March 2014 was held on Manual Scavenging of writ petition number 583 of 2003, and supreme Court has issued the final orders and the case was disposed of with various directions to the government. This resulted in the closing of manual scavenging but, in Northern India, manual scavenging is still practised. Unfortunately, on 22 October 2016, it was reported that Venkatramana a 24-year-old, Dalit, died of asphyxiation. On October 18 Venkatramana and Manjunath had entered a sewage treatment plant in Shantinivas Apartment near Yeshwantpur Railway station in Bengaluru. Manjunath died two days later. As reported Dalit activists protested in front of the Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner’s office demanding compensation.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 says that the local authority is responsible for ensuring the safety of manual scavengers. Under the Rules of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act and their Rehabilitation Act 2013, no person shall be allowed to manually clean sewers or septic tanks. In spite of the law passed by the government in some places, Manual Scavenging is still done. As reported in the above case of Venkatramana, this is happening because they are not educated and do any kind of job for their survival. If we want the safety of Dalits, the government has to assure that, they get a job and will not be forced to do Manual Scavenging.