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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Please report to us where-ever manual scavenging is prevalent

India – Rating of Cities under the National Urban Sanitation Policy
India – Rating of Cities under the National Urban Sanitation Policy
May 12, 2010envhealth@usaidLeave a commentGo to comments
Rating of Cities under the National Urban Sanitation Policy announced yesterday is the part of the exercise started last year to create awareness about sanitation. The exercise of rating of Cities covers all major cities of the country and almost 72 percent of India’s total urban population. The country was divided into five zones for the purpose- North; South; West; East and North East and Central and South Central. Each city has been scored on 19 indicators which are divided into three categories: Output (50 points), Process (30 points) and Outcome (20 points).

The methodology for the exercise was designed incorporating standardized methods for measurement and scoring and was evolved after extensive stakeholder consultations. The rating makes use of both primary data collection during field visits and secondary data from published sources such as census. Each agency was required to follow the prescribed methodology, ensuring uniformity and comparability of data. The data was collected from cities in a consultative and collaborative manner. Based on the scores for output, process and outcome indicators, cities were then classified under four color categories; red, blck, blue and green.

The rating was carried out by three agencies i.e AC Nielsen-ORG Marg, Development and Research Services (DRS) and CEPT University, which were selected through a transparent and open bidding process. The process of data collection was carried out between December 2009 and March 2010 and was subsequently scrutinised in April by a team of experts. The results were communicated to State Governments as part of consultations and presented to the National Advisory Group on Urban Sanitation, the apex Group which oversees implementation of the Policy. The final consultations with States and Cities were held at Vigyan Bhawan before declaration of ratings.

The rating of Cities creates a baseline which can be used to measure progress in respect of sanitation in our cities and is expected to encourage cities to perform better in years to come. Based on the results of the rating, the best performers will be recognized with a National Award- “The Nirmal Shahar Puruskar”.

The award aims to recognize and reward improvements made by a city towards becoming totally clean and healthy by achieving 100% sanitation. A totally sanitized city is one that has achieved the objectives specified in the National Urban Sanitation Policy i.e open-defecation free city; universal access to toilets for all including the urban poor; elimination of manual scavenging; adequate provision of personnel protection equipment that addresses safety of sanitation workers; safe collection, treatment and disposal of all wastewater, solid waste and storm water; and recycle/reuse of treated wastewater with the ultimate objective of ensuring improved public health outcomes and environmental well being.

The exercise reveals that more than half of the cities are in the Blue or Black categories. There are four cities in the blue category which have scored above 66 but less than 90 marks out of hundred. Almost all cities report complete elimination of manual scavenging. More than 50 cities report 90 percent or above safe collection of human excreta. Twenty four cities collect more than 80 percent of their solid wastes – another six show an outstanding performance of nearly 100 percent primary collection. While treatment is a big challenge for most, 17 cities have achieved treating at least 60 percent of their wastes. Most cities have performed well in the process indicators, especially the larger cities, but results for the output and outcome indicators are mixed.

The exercise also highlights that considerable efforts are required to improve access to community and public toilets for the urban poor and to stop open-defecation. Wastewater treatment poses considerable challenges – 380 cities collect and treat less than 40% of their human excreta, though there are six cities that treat more than 90% of their human excreta.

It is expected that the ratings will help in bringing city sanitation in focus in all States and Cities. With significant enhancement in grants for urban local bodies under 13th Finance Commission recommendations, and assistance available under schemes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Urban Infrastructure Scheme for Small and Medium Towns, Infrastructure Development Scheme for Satellite Towns, North Eastern Region Urban Development Programme, Backward Region Grant Fund, multilateral and bilateral funds and significant initiatives by States themselves, it should be indeed possible to move towards better levels of sanitation and the ratings seek to trigger this much needed change.

List of the rating of the cities on sanitation parameters ( 10 pages) is available on PIB site www.pib.nic.in.

Link to the city rankings: http://pib.nic.in/archieve/others/2010/may/d2010051103.pdf

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Two labourers die cleaning manhole


The conservancy workers were working inside the drain without any safety gear; police lodge an FIR against the contractor for violating guidelines

In most developed countries, manhole workers are provided with oxygen masks and bunny suits, but in India conservancy workers - go in almost naked - risking their life and limb.

On Thursday, two contract labourers died inside a manhole near Kalachowki while the third one is recuperating at KEM Hospital.

The workers, who died due to suffocation and inhaling toxic gases, were carrying out ‘manhole cleaning work’ for a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) contractor.

The deceased have been identified as Umakrishnan Kalia Perumal, 25, and Pandiyan Challa Perumal, 25. They were spotted by another labourer Anu Londe, 30 inside the manhole near Kalachowkie on G D Ambedkar Road.

According to other labourers, Londe entered the manhole to find Umakrishnan and Pandiyan after they did not come out for a long time. But he quickly jumped out of the drain as he felt nauseated due to toxic gases. Labourers said that Umakrishnan had entered the manhole first.

When he did not return for a long time, Pandiyan descended in search of him. Londe entered the drain, when the two of them did not come out for long.

Top: File photos of workers cleaning sewers without any safety gear, and (above) one of the two victims, who died after they entered a manhole near Kalachowki and inhaled toxic gases on Thursday (Pics: Sudharak Olwe)

Police have registered an FIR against the contractor R P S Mehta Constorium and the supervisor for the negligence. Police have even arrested Ashok Wajaji Chaudhary alia Patel, 25, the supervisor, who was present at the site when the incident occurred.

Meanwhile, the BMC has issued a show cause notice to the contractor asking them to reply whether they have violated the terms and conditions of the tender which includes the safety of contract labourers. “They were cleaning and strengthening the British era drains as per the contractor’s instruction.

We will investigate if there was any negligence in giving the safety gears to the labourers. Strict action will be taken against the contractor,” said P J Shah, deputy chief engineer (city) of BMC’s storm water drain department.

He added that the police have filed an FIR and have recorded the statements of the contractor, supervisor, BMC engineers. “We will take suitable action against the contractor,” Shah said.

“Contract labourers are always treated in an inhumane manner. No officer takes cognizance, whether proper safety gears are provided to them or not when they enter manholes and drains,” complained Uttam Gade, general secretary of Safai Kamgar Union. Gade, who has been associated with conservancy workers and contract labourers for the past 25 years lamented on the conditions under which labourers are forced to work.

“The High Court has given clear cut guidelines to the BMC, while giving such contracts, but the rules are hardly followed. Each time there is a accident or casualty, the guidelines are followed for few months,” Gade said.

Elaborating further, Gade said that as per the rule, labourers should be tied with belts at the waist and be given safety gears - oxygen mask, gumboots, apart from mechanised air blower, hand gloves, safety head lamp, gas mask among other things.

“They also need to be provided with breathing apparatus, wadder suit, diver suit and gas monitor to check the toxic level of gases. In addition, a mobile water tank for bathing and cleaning also needs to be provided as per the high court guidelines, but nothing is provided to the labourers,” Gade claimed.