Swachchakar Dignity

A blog to give you first hand reports on the conditions of Swachchkar community, their issues and concerns. A campaign for complete abolition of scavenging practices and brigning forth the growing voices of change with in the community.

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Learning through working. Working at the grassroots made me realise the big difference between those who claim to represent communities as well as the communities themselves. Common man is crushed between the ambitions of various individuals to lead and dominate. The dominant and high numbered communities will always dominate our discourse and the most marginalised are losing in this entire discourse. That is the reason why Mushahar remain at the marginalised and the issue of manual scavenging still not on our top agenda and to eliminate that the community has to decide its own organisations..

I am devoted to freedom of ideas and expression. I personally feel that we in the subcontinent want to dominate and control our discourse and each one of is a ultra nationalist in terms of their caste and community. Nationalism is not just national and political but it is equally in term of religion and caste. I feel each kind of nationalism is a dominant discourse which deny the dissenter a right to speak.

At the end, we all want to listen the truth suitable to us.. we have become expertised in the art of speaking truth of convenience. As long as that remain hall mark of our society and we speak to already converts, this society will remain stagnant, it will always try to control our ideas and choices. We need to oppose any such perception, ideas that want to control our mind and victimise us.

To understand India further, I feel, it is good to do foot walk, ( Padyatras) to various parts of the country. I have so far done it thrice covering nearly 1500-2000 kilometers. It is always interesting to see how people are coping their issues and what is the reason of their exploitation.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Scavenging in West Bengal

Bengal's record

SCAVENGERS who carry night soil on their heads for a livelihood are more or less a thing of the past in West Bengal, according to the State government. Ashok Bhattacharya, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Urban Development, Town and Country Planning, said that 120 of the 126 urban local bodies in the State and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, are absolutely free of such scavenging. "As of today, there are no human scavengers working in most parts of West Bengal. Such work may be prevalent in very remote areas, or newly added areas (including areas added to townships) but the different municipalities have specific instruction to address the situation," Bhattacharya told Frontline.

According to official statistics, there are still 178 people engaged in scavenging work, but they will not be doing the work for long. "We have set ourselves a deadline and by October this year there will no person in the State engaged in such demeaning work," said Bhattacharya.
The Minister said that one major difference between West Bengal and some other States on this issue was that all those engaged in this inhuman task were salaried employees of the various Municipal Corporations and received all the benefits, including living quarters, pay and allowances due to a Class IV employee of the State government.

In 1991, the CPI(M)-led Left Front government in the State launched the Integrated Liberation of Scavengers Scheme. By this project 1,82,000 dry latrines were converted to sanitary latrines in six phases at a project cost of Rs.100 crores.

According to Bhattacharya, even as recently as eight years ago there were around 20,000 scavengers, mostly from Bihar, working in different parts of West Bengal. "Today, apart from a few in very remote areas, all scavengers have been liberated and no one has to carry night soil on his or her head anymore. We have provided alternative employment opportunities to all of them, and they are working in different capacities, as sweepers, peons, labourers and so on," he said.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay
From : Frontline, September 22nd, 2006


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