On 2nd October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Swach Bharat Campaign (Clean India campaign).It was focused on the cleanliness of the country and elimination of open defecation from the country. This Campaign is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi Ji. This dream of Prime Minister to make India a clean nation by 2nd October 2019 is looking like a fallacy now. The rationale behind it is Indian Government mere focus on cleanliness not on the malign condition of sanitation workers. Swach Bharat mission is mostly concentrated on the open defecation. But, It’s different side and the worst picture came to seen after the Ghitorni accident. On 14th July, four sanitation workers died of Asphyxiation while cleaning a tank. This is not the first accident that results in the death of Sanitation workers.On May 1, two sanitation workers in Tarantaran of Punjab died of inhaling the toxic gas. Similarly, In Bhatinda, two sanitation workers also become the victim of these gas in the septic tank. As per the Safai Karamchari Andolan, over 1300 manual scavengers died at work related to scavenging in between 2014 and 2016. These statistics raise the question on the limited focus of Swach Bharat mission. Up to, Now Swach Bharat mission mere focus is open defecation and garbage treament. The Goverment is completely ignoring the ill-condition of scavengers, their rehabilitation, their health and the financial problem after the retirement. But, as per the websites of Swach Bharat, there is no such record of it.
Manual scavenging is prohibited under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, a law promulgated on December 6, 2013, nationwide, except Jammu and Kashmir. But, As per the reply to the Rajya Sabha on May5, 2016, India has as many as 12,226 manual scavangers. This data was cite by Minister of State for Social Justice Vijay Sampla and raised the question on the intention of government towards Swach Bharat campaign. Mostly lower caste people are linked to the manual scavenging as per the UN report.An estimated 1.3 million Dalits are related to this work, mostly women.Officialy, Uttar Pardesh has most manual scavengers that counts to 10,016.The Indian Railways are the largest employer of manual scavengers, with an unknown number on their rolls, IndiaSpendreported.
The ill-condition of manual scavenger is agrave concern, If Government need to achieve its goal to make India a clean nation. Still, Scavengers have to clean the man hole with hands and go down to this septic tanks without clothes and mask. This makes it more dangerous for them. Government has not proper machinery to treat the sewer wastage. As per the Indiaspend, government treats only 30% (25,277 millionlitre)daily formed wastage and remaining untreated 70% (36,733 millionlitre)wastage releases to our drains and rivers. Government has mere 816 machines to treat the waste but only 522 of them works properly.
2nd October 2019, will be the 175th birth anniversary of Gandhi Ji and government’s gift to him is still pending . If Modi really want to make a clean India then he should concern to the workers condition who are really making it clean instead of spending bulldozed money on the advertisement of Swach Bharat campaign.