Mangalore, March 22, 2012: With an aim to eradicate manual scavenging completely from the State, the Karnataka Government has issued strict orders that only machines should be used to clean soak pits, septic tanks and manual labour should not be employed for the work.
According to a circular issued to Zilla Panchayats in State by Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary Amitha Prasad, every taluk in the State has been directed to buy four sucking machines of 1000 litre capacity or two sucking machines of 3,000 litre capacity.
However, no special funds have been allotted to buy these machines. The sucking machines have to be purchased from the 13th Finance Commission (Untied grants to Gram Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat) and self generated revenue of the GP, TP and ZP.
A district-level committee has been formed with regard to the purchase of these machines.
The committee will be headed by Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer. District Accounts Officer, Social Welfare Officer, Health and Family Welfare Officer, Executive Officer of the Taluk will be the members and Zilla Panchayat Deputy Secretary will be the convener.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Chief Planning Officer Mohammed Nazeer said that the machines have to be purchased by end of June. “In case of cleaning soak pits before the purchase of the machines, RDPR department has directed to rent the machines available in the municipality and Corporation to do the work. The purchase of the machines could also be done through an e-tender,” he says.
He also adds that the 3,000 litre trailer mounted sucking machine costs Rs 6.75 lakh. However, there is a need to buy a 40 HP tractor for easy transportation of the machine. Hence the total cost of the machine and tractor would be Rs 12 lakh each, he says.
According to The employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Central Act 1993 and Karnataka Act in 1997, carrying excreta on head has been banned and the people who are in this profession and are affected are being offered compensation.
A circular by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Principal Secretary Amitha Prasad points out that cases of manual scavenging are still seen in some parts of the state, violating the law.
In such a case, if a person dies while involved in manual scavenging and if he is a Gram Panchayat worker, then his family has to be given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh within 48 hours of his death.
In case a labourer has been hired by a contractor for this work, then the contractor should take the responsibility and offer the compensation amount.
The agency should ensure that the family has received the compensation amount in the stipulated time.
A case under Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, will be filed against the person who appoints people for manual scavenging.
According to a reliable source, this immediate move against manual scavenging is taken by the government in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed against the government on the issue. (Source: Deccan Herald)