Manual scavenging still remains stinking truth of our nation: NHRC chief

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New Delhi, Jul 5 (PTI) NHRC chairperson justice (retd) Arun Mishra on Monday said manual scavenging still remains a 'stinking truth of our nation' and called for adopting a more scientific and innovative technique to end this inhumane and discriminatory practice.

He was chairing an online meeting of different stakeholders on 'Manual Scavenging & Hazardous Cleaning' organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), officials said.

Mishra expressed serious concern over the continuance of manual scavenging today and said the 'widespread persistence' of this practice, despite laws and guidelines for its elimination, not only goes against the values of our Constitution but also violates numerous national and international rights. 'Manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning still remain a stinking truth of our nation,' he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the NHRC.

He said that 'it is high time we make fundamental shift in our approach and adopt more scientific and innovative technique to end the inhumane, discriminatory and hazardous practice of manual scavenging'.

The NHRC chief also said that the toilets constructed as part of Swachch Bharat Mission were expected to help in the eradication of the manual scavenging, 'but these also suffer from several shortcomings'.

'According to the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2019-20, only 27.3 per cent of the toilets surveyed have a double leach pit; 1.1 per cent goes into a sewer while all others empty into some form of a septic tank or single pits which requires manual cleaning,' he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Justice P C Pant, member, NHRC, said the toxicity of the society in the form of denials of basic human rights of manual scavengers needs to be nullified.

The meeting was also attended by Bimadhar Pradhan, Secretary General; R K Khandelwal, Additional Secretary of the NHRC; and representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, municipal corporations of Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai; civil society organisation members and NGOs.

Other key point raised in the meeting were, replicating best practices across selected municipal corporations (Hyderabad, Chennai); and evaluating the impact of mechanisation and technology on the practice, officials said.

The NHRC has on many occasions expressed grave concern on the persistence of the practice of manual scavenging in the past through its various letters, national seminars and regional workshops, urging stakeholders to take adequate steps towards eradicating this hazardous practice, the statement said.

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