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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Submission of petition related to Laar scavenger to NHRC

Justice Dr Shiv Raj Patil,
National Human Rights Commission,
Faridkot House,
New Delhi April 19, 2007

Re: Lack of rehabilitation of scavengers in Laar town, Deoria


Laar is a small town in district Deoria of Uttar-Pradesh. A visit to this town revealed that the manual scavenging is still prevalent in the area. As per our information more than 119 families identified by the municipality for their inability to switch over to new mode of toilets, which is either flush mode or some other mode as prescribed by the Nagar Palika, has resulted in the continuous practice of scavenging. A group of 10 women’s are still involved in this degrading profession. Most of them complained the complete apathy on part of the Nagar-Palika, Laar.

We also found that some of those who were promised a job in the municipality did not get the job in lieu of leaving the dirty work of carrying nightsoil. The community blames the official for involvement in corrupt practices and no vision to eliminate this practice. Perhaps the politics does not allow the Nagar Palika leaders to take action against those who have not converted their toilets into flush latrines.

It is also shocking that about 33 people were appointed in the municipality after the UP government’s notification. Some of them belong to non-safai communities. Equally disturbing is the fact that the non-safai community people were given work of office assistants and supervisory work though they were recruited on ad-hoc basis for sweepers, while the safai communities i.e. Valmikis/ Rawats continue to suffer in the indignity here. None of the women who were involved in the manual scavenging got the job despite promises made by the municipal authorities.

We are also bringing to your notice that all those 33 who got the ad-hoc appointment in the Nagar Palika have not got a salary till last month which is six months since their appointment. We are giving you a list of women involved in the manual scavenging whose condition is deteriorating day by day, as they have nothing to eat and survive.

We would also like to bring to your notice the big fraud in the Sanitary Mart Scheme, which is another government scheme to rehabilitate the scavengers. DUDA, the District Urban Development Authority is looking after the ‘rehabilitation’ of the scavenger community. One does not know how far it has succeeded but the pain and agony of the community has increased. No efforts have ever been made to speak to the community. Under the pretext that women and men of the community will get new employment, the DUDA official along with some of the middlemen of the community formed a group of 10 people and got them a loan of Rs 1, 58,000/- (Rupees One lakh Fifty Eight Thousand only) to start a Sanitary Mart. With out going into the depth whether this Mart would be successful or not or whether the persons whose name figures in it have really shown their interest, the Shop was opened. And usually happens in such cases, the Mart closed in just three months. Speaking to the community people whose names have been issued notices, one finds that they were not at all involved in the entire process. Many of them, did not even know that there existed a Mart.

It is therefore expected from the National Human Rights Commission to take strong action on this and ask the authorities to clarify their position.

The issues of manual scavengers need to be tackled on two fronts. One their immediate issues such as non-payment of their salaries in the municipality and other related issues which we have highlighted in this letter and my article yesterday. Apart from this, the all other issues of the community remain the same and need a comprehensive plan and action. NHRC would do well to involve the civil society and community people to bring out a complete plan to eliminate manual scavenging.

For immediate action, we repeat the points:

Immediate halting of scavenging with complete rehabilitation of the 10 women who are doing it. Please request the officials not to threaten the families but to provide them alternatives.
Take action against the erring municipal authorities as why those Safai karmcharis, who got appointment in the municipality have not got any salary for the past six months. This is strange that after appointments people have not got their salaries so far.
Why did the uppercastes/backward/Muslims occupants of the sweeper’s job are not doing the cleaning/sweeping work. Why no one from the sweeper community is deemed fit to be supervising his community work.
Strong action against those houses who have not switched to flush latrines.
Thorough probe as why the Sanitary Mart scheme failed and who were responsible. Action must be taken against the officials of DUDA. National Scheduled Castes Financial Corporation and Nagar Palika, Laar, and not just against the some of the community persons who played to the officials allurement.

We hope NHRC will be prompt in its action and will let us know about the action it has taken. In the meanwhile, we assure you that we will continue to unearth the corruption and condition of manual scavengers all over the country and come back to you as soon as we have further information.

Thank you,

Yours Sincerely,
For Social Development Foundation

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The List of Manual Scavengers in the Town Area-Laar, District Deoria, Uttar-Pradesh

S.No. Name of Father/Husband

1. Sunita W/o Kailash
2. Subhavati Devi W/o Ram Pyare
3. Sushila W/o Ramchander
4. Kamala Devi W/o Basant
5. Basanti Devi W/o Krishpa
6. Manju Devi W/o Kailash
7. Shankuntala Devi W/o Late Shyam Babu
8. Gauri Devi W/o Bechu
9. Vidha Devi W/o Harender
10. Mamta D/o Ramchander
11. Geeta Devi W/o Dilip
12. Jalreva W/o Vishawnaath

The list of sanitary workers in Laar who did not get their salaries so far.

Rajendra Rawat s/o Ramchandra Rawat
Ramchandra Rawat s/o Late Swaminath
Jitendra s/o Kailash
Raju s/o Harendra
Krishna s/o Vishwanath
Parvati Devi w/o Lalsaheb
Mamta w/o Shankar
Ramesh s/o Baijnath
Ramesh s/o Mahesh
Vimla w/o Late Lallan
Ram Pyare s/o Swaminath

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