Category Archives: eradication

Case Report (02/03/2019): Death of a Worker in a Septic Tank of a Private School at Beguru in Bengaluru

On 02.03.2019, the administration of Jai Hind International School located near 11th Main, Hongasandra on Beguru Main Road in Bengaluru, reportedly engaged Manu (25), belonging to Lingayat community, for manually cleaning a septic tank/chamber into which the sewage from the toilets in the school empty out. Engaging any person for manual cleaning of septic tanks, which amounts to manual scavenging, is expressly prohibited by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PRMSR) Act 2013. Sec 2(d)(e) of the PEMSR Act defines hazardous cleaning as

d) “hazardous cleaning” by an employee, in relation to a sewer or septic tank, means its manual cleaning by such employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions, as may be prescribed or provided in any other law, for the time being in force or rules made thereunder;

Section 7 of the Act expressly prohibits manual cleaning of septic tanks and Sec 9 makes violations of this prohibition punishable offence:-

7. No person, local authority or any agency shall, from such date as the State Government may notify, which shall not be later than one year from the date of commencement of this Act, engage or employ, either directly or indirectly, any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank;

9. Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 7 shall for the first contravention be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or with both, and for any subsequent contravention with imprisonment which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.

Sec 2(d) imposes obligations on the employer to provide protective and safety equipment to workers and to take precautions before, during and after any person is engaged in cleaning septic tanks. These obligations have been defined in Chapter II of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 encompassing Rules 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. But the private school which is affiliated with ICSE/IGCSE and claims to be an ‘International’ school providing facilities including a ‘swimming pool’, completely failed in discharging these obligations. In fact the BBMP Bomanahalli Zonal Office is just 1.5 kms away from the school, and the administration could have requested the services of a Jetting Machine, but the administration of the private school didn’t think twice before sending a person down a sewage pit.

Manu was not provided any safety equipment by the administration of the school and was assigned to clean the chamber without any supervision. When he fell into the pit, no body else was present at the spot. The pit was just 5 ft deep, and presence of any other person could have saved him. Only after several minutes of having fallen in the pit did somebody notice him and pull him out. By the time he was rushed to hospital, he had already died due to asphyxiation.

Sewage Pit which that was being emptied by Manu when he fell in

Manu came from the Lingayat community and is survived by his wife Nandini (22) who belongs to Adi-dravida (SC) community. Nadini says that their inter-caste marriage was never accepted by Manu’s mother and that is why they were living in a separate rented house in Hongasandra, just behind the school. Manu used to work as a casual labourer. They have a 4.5 year-old daughter.

Ms. Nandini, wife of late Ms. Manu, with their 4-yr old daughter

Based on a complaint filed by Ms. Nandini at the Beguru Police Station, a case has been registered under Sec 9 of PEMSR Act 2013 and Sec 304A of Indian Penal Code. Three people of the administration of Jai Hind International School, namely Mr. Raghavan (owner), Ms. Saroja (Principal) and Mr. Kishore (Co-ordinator) have been arrested based on the complaint. While Ms. Saroja was granted bail on 04.03.2019, the other two accused were sent into judicial custody.

Clearly this is a case where death has occurred not due to negligence but due to a conscious act on the part of the accused persons who with deliberate knowledge that it is illegal and dangerous to allow a person to clean the pit, has willfully made the deceased person get into the pit without any safety equipment endangering his life and finally causing the death of the deceased and hence the correct provision of law to be invoked is Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 of IPC, 1860, as warranted by the facts of the case.

IPC Sec 304 Part II
Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

IPC Sec 338
Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.—Whoever causes grievous hurt to any person by doing any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life, or the personal safety of others, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

As specified above, sec 2(d) of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 read with Chapter II of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 create obligations on the employers to provide protective and safety equipment to workers and to take precautions before, during and after any person is engaged in cleaning septic tanks. But despite this common knowledge, the accused made a worker enter a septic tank completely unsupervised and without providing any safety or protective equipment whatsoever. Given these facts, Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 of IPC, 1860 are clearly attracted.

Since 2008, over 70 people have died while engaged in cleaning septic tanks and sewers. In Bangalore city alone, since the 2013 Act came into force, there have been over 20 cases of manual scavenging leading to over 30 deaths but so far the police has not been able to secure a single conviction in any of these cases. The state administration seems to think that in cases of deaths resulting from manual scavenging, its responsibility ends with providing compensation to the family. Since the Congress (I)-JD(S) coalition government has come to power, they have not appointed anyone to the post of Chairman of the Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission after relieving the previous Chairman before the end of the tenure. Since the establishment of the Safaikarmachari Development Corporation, the process of rehabilitation of those identified as Manual Scavengers has completely stalled in Karnataka.

Further Interventions Required

  1. Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 should be immediately added to the FIR filed in the case at the Beguru Police Station.
  2. The Beguru Police Station should expedite the process of investigation and filing of charge sheet in the case.
  3. While providing compensation to the family of the deceased as per Supreme Court Judgement in Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors. Vs UOI [WP (C) 583/2003], the circumstances of inter-caste marriage between Mr. Manu and Ms. Nandini and non-acceptance of this marriage by Mr. Manu’s family should be kept in mind so as to ensure that Ms. Nandini and their daughter are not denied justice.
  4. The family of Mr. Manu should be provided rehabilitation as per the provisions of Sec 13 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
  5. The BBMP and BWSSB should jointly set-up a helpline which people can call to request services of Sucking and Jetting Machines and the helpline should be widely publicised.

Press Meet in Bengaluru (13/07/2018): On the Death of BBMP Pourakarmika Subramani because of delay in salary

PRESS MEET

jointly organized by

Town Municipal Council, City Municipal Council and Mahanagar Pallike Pourakarmika Mahasagha

and

Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi – Karnataka

Main Demands regarding Contract Safaikarmacharis

  1. Shri Subramani, a contract safaikarmachari working for BBMP, having not received his monthly salary since last six months, and unable to continue living without salary, consumed poison and killed himself; this is an extremely unfortunate matter;

  2. The officials responsible for this incident should be booked under SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 as amended, and they should be immediately suspended;

  3. Since BBMP is directly responsible for Shri Subramani’s death, his family should be given Rs 25 lakhs and along with this his wife should be provided with permanent employment;

  4. The process of direct appointment of safaikarmacharis by BBMP which is stuck for the last 3-4 years, should be started immediately and finished within a fixed time period;

  5. The process of direct appointment of contract safaikarmacharis working under all Mahanagar Pallike, Corporations, Municipal Councils, and Town Panchayats across the state should be completed immediately; In this regard, orders should be issued to all DCs to complete this process within fixed time period; disciplinary action should be taken against any officer found showing negligence in this matter.

  6. Fixing of the maximum age for direct appointment at 45 years is both misappropriate and anti-worker; this age should be fixed at least 50 years and for the workers above 50 years of age, appropriate compensation should be provided along with employment for their family members;

  7. For direct appointment of safaikarmacharis, the rule that one worker will be appointed for population of 700 is unscientific and should be removed; instead one worker should be appointed for population of 500 (As per I P D Salappa Report)

  8. For past several years, contractors and officials have been colluding to deny safaikarmacharis benefits like PF and ESI; the State government should register complaint in this matter and take appropriate legal action; and action should also be taken to return PF money of all safaikarmacharis.

  9. Suitable housing should be provided to safaikarmacharis in their town/cities; local officials and elected representatives are deliberately not taking action on this front; therefore, state government should immediately take appropriate action;

  10. Basic faculties like drinking water, toilet, hot water and rest house should be provided in all urban areas in the state at the work place of safaikarmacharis;

  11. To ensure that the pre-matric scholarship under the scheme formulated by Central government for children of parents engaged in unclean occupations, reaches all children of safaikarmachari, the state government should make new rules;

  12. The establishment of Safaikarmachari Development Corporation is a step in right direction but it is not discharging its responsibility as per rules; While appointing the Chairman and members of the State Safaikarmachari Commission, only those leaders should be considered who have been engaged in organizing the community for at least 10 years; for no reason should any other persons be considered for appointment.

  13. The establishment of Safaikarmachari Development Corporation is a step in right direction; a joint committee comprising officials and leaders of safaikarmachari organizations should be set-up to formulate and implement new policy and rules for identifying safaikarmacharis and directly providing them facilities so as to avoid the injustice to safaikarmacharis being perpetrated by middle men.

Regarding the Implementation of The Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013

  1. Towards complete eradication of the widespread practice of manual scavenging across the State, a mass campaign through street plays, wall messages, posters, handbills and radio-TV should be carried out in public places, institutions, safaikarmachari community areas etc is the need of the hour; all support and assistance required to carry out this campaign through safaikarmachari organizations should be provided by Social Welfare Department;

  2. State government is required to provide the comprehensive rehabilitation as per 2013 Act to the families of 905 manual scavengers identified and registered since 2013 (2013 urban survey-302; 2016 rural verification – 447 and 2017-Davangere-156); a special programme should be formulated to rehabilitate the families of these 905 families.

  3. Several workers have died while on duty on account of various forms of ill-health issues, but no officials have taken any action regarding this matter; (recently, two safaikarmacharis working under Tumkuru Mahanagara Pallike died along the roadside; the officials there didn’t come and see them even for courtesy sake; neither did they take any action)

With Regards,

Narayana, State President and Former President – State Safaikarmachari Commission

K B Obalesh, State Convener

Davangere (22/02/2018): 156 persons Identified as Manual Scavengers by Davangere City Corporation

In a significant success for the efforts towards eradication of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of manual scavengers in Karnataka, Davangere City Corporation (DCC) has accepted the self-declaration forms submitted by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi (SKKS) and has registered 156 persons as manual scavengers and issued them ID cards which marks the beginning of their rehabilitation process.

The significance of this achievement has to be seen in the light of the complete denial by all local authorities in Karnataka to registers workers as manual scavengers and provide them rehabilitation even when presented with evidence and self-declaration forms attesting to their having worked or continuing to work as manual scavengers. In the survey conducted by the various Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the state, total number of manual scavengers officially identified had been just 302. The gross underestimation of number of manual scavengers in urban Karnataka that this number reflects would be come clear when one looks at the fact that 2011 Census had enumerated over 73,769 insanitary latrines (services by humans and animals or draining into open pits) in urban Karnataka. So if one is to believe, the state government figures, just 302 manual scavengers are cleaning 73,769 insanitary latrines. If you add, the single pit latrines, which also requires manual cleaning every couple of years, we are looking at numbers of much higher order than 302. The failure to identify those working as manual scavengers not only amounts to perpetuation of manual scavenging practice by the government which is responsible for its prohibition but it is also the denial of rehabilitation to them and thus violation of their right to human dignity. Most of these persons belongs to Dalit communities, which explains why the government and administration is so criminally negligent when it comes to removal of the casteist practice of manual scavenging.

To expose the lies of the government, SKKS had organised a State-level jatha during 22-31 March 2016 wherein those who had been working as manual scavengers were urged to come forward and submit self-declaration forms to the respective ULBs. When the Jatha reached Davangere, 56 workers from Nituvalli colony came forward, expressing their willingness to file self-declaration forms. Mr. D S Babbanna from Action Initiative for Development (AID) became a member of SKKS and helped the workers file self-declaration forms. On July 31 2016, these forms were submitted to the City Corporation and the District administration, demanding registration and rehabilitation for those working as manual scavengers. SKKS had estimated that in Davangere district there are more than 300 persons working as manual scavengers across various ULBs and the district administration should direct all ULBs to carry out a comprehensive survey to demolish all insanitary latrines and identify all manual scavengers employed to clean them.

Submission of Self-declaration forms by workers
Submission of Self-declaration forms by workers

The City Corporation refused to register these workers as manual scavengers and effectively denied them a life of dignity. Even the district administration also refused to give directions to the ULBs to register those who have come forward as manual scavengers or to carry out a survey for identification of insanitary latrines and persons working as manual scavengers. SKKS carried out its own surveys and re-surveys on three occasions and filed more self-declaration forms with the City Corporation. By now, the total number of persons who had come forward had increased to 156 but the administration refused to register them.

A case was filed at the Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission in February 2017, which visited the area and directed that a inter-departmental Inquiry Committee be formed to look into the matter. Following the favourable report of the Inquiry Committee, in Nov 2017, the Corporation agreed to register the workers as manual scavengers.

After 1.5 years of submission of self-declaration forms, finally, in a public event organized on 22nd February 2018 at Rotary Club in Davangere under the joint aegis of Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi, District Legal Services Authority, District Lawyers Association, District Social Welfare Department, City Corporation, Manual Scavengers’ and Safaikarmachari Welfare Trust, Dr. B R Ambedkar Development Corporation and AID organization, the registered workers were provided ID cards.

Persons identified as manual scavengers receiving identity cards from the Hon’ble District and Sessions Judge
Persons identified as manual scavengers receiving identity cards from the Hon’ble District and Sessions Judge
Registration ID Cards for eligibility for rehabilitation
Registration ID Cards for eligibility for rehabilitation

The meeting was presided over by Justice S. H. Hosgoudar, Chief District and Session Judge and Chairman, District Legal Services Authority. He said that protection of individual dignity is a crucial part of the Indian Constitution and hence untouchability and caste-based discrimination has been outlawed but the continuation of a inhuman practice like manual scavenging as evident from the news reports of manual scavenging deaths is a blot on the whole nation.

Persons identified as manual scavengers and their families participating in the meeting

Senior Advocate Mr. L H Arunkumar, member of State Legal Services Authority pointed out that in the 3 years between 2013 and 2016, 1500 persons have been killed all over India while engaged in manual scavenging. In the state, more than 15 persons have died in such cases of manual scavenging.

Persons identified as manual scavengers and their families participating in the meeting

While the acceptance of self-declaration forms and registration of these 156 persons is a significant milestones, the dream of a manual scavenging free Karnataka is still quite far and following urgent steps need to be taken as small steps towards that dream:-

  1. The State government should direct all urban and rural local bodies to carry out comprehensive survey of insanitary latrines within their jurisdiction which should be completed in the next two months;
  2. The State government should direct all urban and rural local bodies to identify and register all manual scavengers working under their jurisdiction including those who have already submitted self-declaration forms within 3 month period;
  3. The State government should initiate meaningful rehabilitation process of all identified manual scavengers as per the provisions of the MSR Act 2013 and the directions of the Supreme Court and complete the process in six months;
  4. The process of investigation and filing of chargesheets into all the 35 cases of manual scavenging leading to deaths should be fast tracked and special public prosecutor should be appointed to secure convictions in each of these cases; State government should use its power under Sec 21 of the MSR Act 2013 to confer powers of Judicial Magistrate on the Executive Magistrate to expedite the proceedings.

Report by Mr. Babanna, AID and member of Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi 

Memorandum submitted to the National Safaikarmachari Commission (22/02/2018)

 

Date: 22.02.2018

The Chairman,

National Commission for Safai Karmacharis

New Delhi

Sub: Status of Implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 in Karnataka and the Condition of Contract Safaikarmacharis in the State.

Respected Sir,

In the context of your visit to the State of Karnataka, we, the members of Safai Karmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka, which is a forum of Dalit activists working towards eradication of manual scavenging, would like to bring to your attention the deplorable status of implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (MSR) Act 2013 and the violation of the rights of contract safai karmacharis working for Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in Karnataka.

Status of Implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (MSR) Act 2013 in Karnataka

a) Five years after the enactment of the MSR Act 2013, most of the Urban Local Bodies and Gram Panchayaths in the state are yet to initiate the process of identification of insanitary latrines in their jurisdiction even though section 4 (1) of the Act requires them to complete the process within 2 months of the Act coming into force;

b) While the Socio Economic Caste Census listed 15,375 persons as Manual Scavengers in rural Karnataka alone, the State government has registered only 779 persons (302 in Urban and 477 in Rural areas) as Manual Scavengers. Self-declaration forms submitted to district authorities are not being accepted by them denying those working as manual scavengers rehabilitation under the Act;

c) Even for the 779 persons who have been registered as manual scavengers in the State, the process of rehabilitation has been completely ineffective and has not followed the provisions of the MSR Act 2013 and various Supreme Court Orders on the matter. Most identified manual scavengers are yet to receive One-Time Cash Assistance (OTCA), self-employment training and financial assistance under SRMS scheme;

d) As per our reports, since 2008, in 35 incidents of manual scavenging, 72 people have died but in none of the cases have gone to trial yet. Police officials in the State police are not registering these cases under sections of MSR Act 2013 allowing the guilty officials and persons to get bail in the cases;

Employment of Persons as Manual Scavengers at Religious Festival at Shraavanbelegola, Haasan, Karnataka

e) News reports[1] have indicated that the district administration of Haasan district had allowed organizers of a religious festival at Shraavanbelegola (Haasan, Karnataka) to build insanitary latrines cleaned by manual scavengers in violation of Sec 5 of the MSR Act but so far no official or organizer has been arrested for the offences under the Act demonstrating how the government is guilty of perpetuating this inhuman casteist practice.

Violation of the rights of contract Safai karmacharis employed by ULBs in Karnataka

f) In August 2017, the State government of Karnataka decided to regularize 10,000 contract safai karmacharis employed by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the state after a long struggle waged by the workers for their rights above 90% of whom belong to Scheduled Castes (SC). But the Recruitment rules framed by the government threatens to deprive them of their rights in following ways:-

  1. The maximum age for regular employment has been fixed at 45 years which would deprive workers who have worked as contract employees for last 20-25 years of regular employment and social security benefits.
  2. The proposed recruitment process will follow reservations quotas for SC, ST, OBC and GEN categories even though it is well known that above 90% of the workers belong to SC communities. The insistence of limiting the recruitment of workers to their reservation quota only will be a grave injustice to dalit workers who have struggled for years to get their employment regularized.

In light of the above facts, we appeal to you to raise the above issues with the State government officials during your visit to Karnataka and direct the authorities to take, among other steps, following actions:-

Status of Implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (MSR) Act 2013 in Karnataka

  • Initiate survey for identification of insanitary latrines within the jurisdiction of all local authorities in the state which should be completed in the next two months;
  • Identify and register all manual scavengers working under the jurisdiction of local authorities in the state including those who have already submitted self-declaration forms within 3 month period;
  • Initiate meaningful rehabilitation process of identified manual scavengers as per the provisions of the MSR Act 2013 and the directions of the Supreme Court and complete the process in six months;
  • The process of investigation and filing of chargesheets into all the 35 cases of manual scavenging leading to deaths should be fast tracked and special public prosecutor should be appointed to secure convictions in each of these cases; State government should use its power under Sec 21 of the MSR Act 2013 to confer powers of Judicial Magistrate on the Executive Magistrate to expedite the proceedings.

Employment of Persons as Manual Scavengers at Religious Festival at Shraavanbelegola, Haasan, Karnataka

  • For violation of MSR Act 2013 by the district authorities and organizers of the religious festival at Shravanabelegola, Haasan, Karnataka, cases under Sec 8 and 9 of the Act and 3(1)(j) of SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 as amended in 2016 should be filed against the culprits;

Violation of the rights of contract Safai karmacharis employed by ULBs in Karnataka

  • The maximum age for regularization of contract safai karmacharis should be extended to 60 years and recruitment should be done on the basis of years of service.
  • All existing contract safai karmacharis should be regularized without any restrictions based on reservation quotas since this is not a fresh recruitment but a regularization of existing workers.
  • Any other actions that the Commission may deem necessary.

 

K B Obalesh

Member, State Monitoring Committee u/ MSR Act 2013

Convener, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi Karnataka

  1. [1]http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/shravanabelagola-latrines-run-afoul-of-manual-scavenging-law/article22537499.ece

Tumkuru (02/02/2017): District-level Convention of Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi

A District-level Convention for Contract Pourakarmikas working for Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Town Panchayats (TP)), Gram Panchayat (GP) safaikarmacharis, safaikarmacharis working in private institutions like hotels, lodge, temples, hospitals etc. and family members of those working as Manual Scavengers was held at Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira in Tumkuru on 2nd Feb 2017. The Convention attended by over 800 workers from all the 10 talukas and 64 Gram Panchayats in Tumkuru district, was presided over by Mr. M. Narayana, former Chairperson of Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission; Mr. M. R. Venkatesh, Present Chairman of the Commission, Mr. S. K. Kanta, Former Labour Minister, State Government of Karnataka, Smt. Yashoda Srinivas, Mayor, Tumkuru Municipal Corporation (TMC), Sh. T R Nagraj, Deputy Mayor, TMC, Sh. Arshad R Shaerriff, Commissioner, TMC , Sh. Kenchamarayya, Member, Tmukuru Zilla Panchayat and several other dignitaries. The Convention was jointly organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Tumkuru and Belaku Safaikarmachari Welfare Trust-Tumkuru.

District level Convention at Gubbi Veeranna Hall in Tumkuru

The Convention began by noting with serious concern, the complete lack of implementation of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in the district. Since the Act came into effect in 2013, the district authorities have failed to discharge their legal responsibility under the Act even after 4 years. The Convention reiterated its resolve to continue its struggle for the implementation of the Act. Specifically, following demands and points of action were identified for the future work of SKKS in the district.

Implementation of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

  1. As per the 2013 Act, District Authorities are required to conduct a comprehensive survey within their jurisdiction and list all insanitary latrines which are then to be demolished or converted to sanitary latrines. Even after 4 years of the Act coming into effect, the district administration has taken no steps towards fulfilling this legal obligation.
  2. As per the 2013 Act, District Authorities were also required to identify persons being employed as Manual Scavengers by conducting a survey in their respective jurisdictions. But so far, no such process has been started after the commencement of the Act. The identification process should be started immediately by launching a wide public awareness campaign eliciting self-declaration affidavits from persons who have been employed as Manual Scavengers.
  3. Already in some districts, several persons have filed self-declaration affidavits with the district authorities stating that they have been employed as Manual Scavengers. They should be registered and rehabilitated after due verification.
  4. Vigilance Committees at the District and Sub-Divisional level should be formed immediately as prescribed by the Act.
  5. Children of Manual Scavengers and safaikarmacharis should be given educational scholarship immediately.

The Convention discussed the impact of the continuous struggle and advocacy work done by SKKS-Karnataka by noting that in the year 2016, several decisions have been taken by the State Government of Karnataka towards regularization of safaikarmacharis, providing the safaikarmacharis a living wage and provision of basic entitlements like education, housing etc. But despite the success in forcing the State government to agree to these long-standing demands, only partial implementation has been done. Representatives from each taluka of the district explained the problems faced by them in their area. Across all talukas, all safaikarmacharis reported continued harassment and violence from contractors and officials including caste-abuse. In several Town Panchayats (TPs) and Gram Panchayats (GPs), safaikarmacharis have not been paid for 3-4 months and when they protested in front of the officials, they were facing harassment. A consistent theme across testimonies by all taluka representatives was that they were not being provided the wage slip by the contractor giving details of their salaries and deduction towards ESI and PF as is mandatory under The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. Whether the PF deductions are actually being deposited in their accounts was not clear to them. In several panchayats, the wages being paid are lower than the current minimum wages notified by State government. The workers also complained that they are not being provided with any safety equipments or protective gears by the contractors or officials. Consequently, most of the workers are suffering from various work-related health complications without access to affordable healthcare and treatment.

Taking cognizance of these continuing issues and the delayed implementation of several government decisions passed in response to the advocacy efforts of SKKS, the Convention adopted following declarations laying out their demands and resolved to work collectively towards achieving these demands:-

  1. On 04.05.2016, Cabinet of State Government of Karnataka had decided to end contract system for safaikarmacharis by regularizing them under a Special Recruitment Policy by March 2017. The decision should be implemented without delay within this time frame. If there is any further delay in implementation, we would counter it with appropriate struggle.
  2. On 04.08.06 2016, an order increasing the Minimum Wage for safaikarmacharis has been passed as per which the minimum wage to be given are Rs 14,040 (for 12 large City Municipal Corporations), Rs 13,670 (for Municipalities) and Rs 12,500 (for Town Panchayats and Gram Panchayats). However, still in all Gram Panchayats and several Town Panchayats, the increased Minimum Wage is not being given. The order should be implemented immediately and the officials in-charge who delay the implementation should be acted against.
  3. An order for the establishment of a separate State Safaikarmachari Development Corporation for the comprehensive development of safaikarmacharis has been passed. But officials are causing delay in the implementation of the order. The Corporation should be started immediately.
  4. Contract Pourakarmika’s basic issues including Provident Fund, leave with pay, ESI, provision of wage slip with details of deductions, house site, development of basic facilities in the residential colonies of pourakarmikas etc. have not been addressed at all. District officials should take immediate action to resolve these issues.
  5. Those safaikarmacharis who had been working for Gram Panchayats who died due to health complications caused by their work, their families should be given adequate compensation and their dependents should be provided with government employment.

Both M Narayana and M R Venkatesh extended their support for the demands raised in the convention and asked the attendees to prepare for a wide struggle if the government doesn’t regularize safaikarmacharis by March 2017.

Case Report (17-27 Feb 2018): Manual Scavenging during religious festival at Shravanbelegola in Hassan district, Karnataka

On Jan 27, 2018, The Hindu, had reported that insanitary latrines in violation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (MSR) Act 2013 had been built at Tyagi Nagar – a temporary are built at Shravanbelegola – to be used during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival at Shravanbelegola in Hassan, Karnataka. The news report also mentioned that dalits from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh have been brought to clean these insanitary latrines.

On Jan 28, 2018, the Principal Secretary to the Revenue Department, Government of Karnataka, directed the organisers to demolish the insanitary latrines as reported by the The Hindu. Section 5 of the MSR Act 2013 states that

5. (1) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, no person, local authority or any agency shall, after the date of commencement of this Act,—
(a) construct an insanitary latrine;

Any contravention of provisions of Section 5 is punishable under Section 8 of the MSR Act 2013. Hence, instead of directing the organizers of the religious festival, the administration should have filed criminal charges against the organizers for violation of the MSR Act 2013.

On 30 Jan 2018, after a visit to the site, members of Karnataka State Safai Karmachari Commission had brought this to the notice of the district administration and had issued a notice to the organizers to demolish all insanitary latrines, as reported by The Hindu.

Despite these directions, the insanitary latrines were not demolished. Under the Act, the Deputy Commissioner has the responsibility of ensuring that the prohibitory provisions are not violated but the Deputy Commissioner of Hassan district Ms. Rohini Sindhuri appeared to condone the violations. The News Minute had quoted her saying:

“The Tyagis are Digambar Jains and are set in their ways. They don’t use the sanitary toilets that we use. The township has been divided into 12 Nagars and Tyagi Nagar is being looked after by the Jain Mutt. The Safai Karamchari Commission and the Revenue Secretary has issued a notice to the mutt, but the religious leaders said that they will defecate in the open since it is their custom.”

She claimed that the festival was not violating the provisions of the MSR Act 2013. But the videos and the pictures below show clearly that the organizers chose to ignore these directions of the Commission and the Revenue Department even as the the district administration chose to look the other way and wilfully abetted the perpetuation of the casteist inhuman practice of manual scavenging.

 

 

Image showing insanitary latrines being cleaned by workers
Without a flush, these latrines require manual cleaning making them insanitary latrines as defined under the MSR Act 2013
Sec 5 of the MSR Act 2013 prohibits construction of insanitary latrines. Violation of this provision is a punishable criminal offense.

2(1)(g) “manual scavenger” means a person engaged or employed, at the commencement of this Act or at any time thereafter, by an individual or a local authority
or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the Central Government or a State Government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be
prescribed, and the expression “manual scavenging” shall be construed accordingly.

Employment of persons for cleaning insanitary latrines is prohibited under Sec 7 of the MSR Act 2013.
Barefoot workers cleaning the insanitary latrines

After this damning evidence surfaced, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi Karnataka, submitted complaint to the Chief Secretary of Government of Karnataka and also submitted a memorandum to the Chairman of National Safai Karmachari Commission during their visit to Karnataka. Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi demanded that cases should be  immediately booked under Sec 8 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 and Sec 3(1)(j) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 as amended in 2016 against the organizers of the event and the Deputy Commissioner of Hassan district who failed to ensure the dignity and human rights of dalit workers.

As a follow-up to the complaint filed with Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka and Karnataka State Safai Karmachari Commission by Safai Karmachari Kavulu Samithi, a spot inspection was arranged to be conducted on 15.03.2018. It is pertinent that the complaint against Deputy Commissioner, Hassan for constructing insanitary latrines and employment of manual scavengers to clean them in violation of Sec 5 and 7 of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013, was filed on 30.01.2018. The festival for which these insanitary latrines were constructed was held between Feb 7-26 2018. Hence, the administration did not act on these complaints till the event was over and a spot inspection was arranged after 45 days of the complaint being filed and 3 weeks of the event being over.

On 15.03.2018, the inspection was conducted in the presence of officials from Social Welfare Department, Tehsildar Office (Chennarayapattana), Panchayat Development Officer (Shravanbelegola) and Assistant Executive Engineer, Hassan, Karnataka Urban Water Supply Board.

Spot Inspection (Mahajar) Report:

Mahazar Report

We visited one portion of a temporary settlement called Tyaginagar built for the Jain monks. On one side of the settlement 72 dry latrines have been constructed exclusively for use by the monks. We were told that there were at least two more such latrine clusters which means upwards of 200 insanitary latrines.

Notice saying “For Use by Monks Only”

There was clear evidence that these latrines had been used as some of them still had dry faecal matter and there was no flush system to clean the faeces without either using a bucket or a pipe.

Picture of a Insanitary Latrine with dry fecal matter as present on 15.03.2018
Picture of a Insanitary Latrine with dry fecal matter as present on 15.03.2018

The faecal matter had to be washed away using bucket or a pipe to pits dug up behind these latrines. The pits had been covered with tin sheds and strong smell was emanating from the used latrines and the pits. The space around the pits and latrines were closed off using tin sheets and it is not possible for Sucking Machines to enter the area and clean the latrines.

Pits dug behind the insanitary latrines into which undecomposed fecal matter was being discharged

Section 2(1)(e) of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, defined insanitary latrines in following terms:-

insanitary latrine” means a latrine which requires human excreta to be cleaned or otherwise handled manually, either in situ, or in an open drain or pit into which the excreta is discharged or flushed out”

Clearly the fecal matter from the latrines built at Shravanbelegola had to be cleaned manually and had been discharged into pits before decomposition as evidenced by the strong smell emanating from the pits.

Section 5(1)(a) of the 2013 Act prohibits construction of insanitary latrines:-

5. (1) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, no person, local authority or any agency shall, after the date of commencement of this Act,—

           (a) construct an insanitary latrine;

Any violation of this prohibition is a punishable offense as per Sect 8 of the Act:-

8. Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 5 or section 6 shall for the first contravention be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with both, and for any subsequent contravention with imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.

Section 22 of the 2013 Act states that

22. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, every offence under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

Thus the police can take cognizance of offences under the Act even without a complaint but as yet there is not even an FIR in this case. Is the Deputy Commissioner above the law? Or is the dignity of dalit workers expendable?

 

Press Release (14/02/2018): Government apathy and inaction leads to two more preventable manual scavenging deaths in Bengaluru

14th February 2018

In a sheer display of government apathy and neglect, two more labourers, Ramu (age 25 ) and Ravi (age 28 ), from Raichur, have been deliberately pushed to death in a septic tank at the Yum Lok restaurant in AECS layout. These deaths are as a result of failure of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KPSCB) and the BBMP to strictly implement guidelines around the construction and maintenance of commercial establishments.
Under section 7 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013,expressly prohibits employment of persons for hazardous cleaning of a sewers or septic tanks and any contravention of this section is cognizable and a non-bailable offence under section 9 of the above Act. Additionally, offences are made out under section 3(1) (j) of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 as amended in 2016, as well as under IPC sec 304 (part 2).

As per the statement issued by the Municipal Corporation’s Joint Commissioner for Health, Sarfaraz Khan, the restaurant’s application has been rejected by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike but it has continued to operate illegally. Why are illegal entities continuing to operate in Bengaluru? It is due to failure of the monitoring and implementing bodies such as the BBMP and KPSCP to continuously monitor and take strict actions to shut down commercial establishments that operate with impunity and leading to loss of life of young men from marginalized communities.

The Safai Karmachari Kavalu samiti, Karnataka, is a group of activists working for the rehabilitation of persons engaged in manual scavenging and total eradication of manual scavenging, which is the worst form of caste based slavery. Known cases of manual scavenging related deaths in Bengaluru city has already reached 5 in 2018. The Kavalu samiti strongly condemns the continuing inaction by the KSPCB, BBMP and state government to take strict action to prevent all forms of manual scavenging and strictly penalize violations by the government, commercial establishments and apartment complexes.

As per the directions under the 2014 Supreme Court judgement in Safai Karamachari Andolan & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors family of the two men, should be provided a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs each immediately and the state government should also take immediate steps towards providing a government job to one member of deceased family as per the provisions of the 2013 Act and 2014 SC judgement.

For more information, please contact

Mr. K B Obalesh
State Convener, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi Karnataka
Ph: +91 97425 86468

Media Coverage

  1. Manual scavenging: Monitoring panel has had only one meeting,’ The Hindu, Feb 16, 2018.

Press Release (31/01/2018): The STP that killed 3 workers at N D Sepal Apartments shouldn’t have been operating in the first place

Date: 31 Jan 2018

The death of Madegowda (45), Srinivas (52) and Narayanswamy (43) while cleaning the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at N D Sepal Apartments at Somsundarapalya, Bengaluru could have been prevented if Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) had discharged its responsibility by ordering the closure of the STP which was not authorized to operate in the first place.

To be in compliance with the mandatory requirements of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, apartments have to seek Consent for Establishment (CFE) before building STPs and Consent for Operation (CFO) before starting operation of the STP.

Documents accessed by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka, a forum of Dalit activists working to eradicate manual scavenging, show that while the builder of N D Sepal Apartment had been granted Consent for Establishment (CFE) in 2006, the apartments owners had not applied for Consent For Operation (CFO), making the STP an unauthorized illegal one. Whats more, this fact was not unknown to the officials of the Board. In a joint inspection conducted by KSPCB and BWSSB officials on 12.06.2017, the inspection team discovered that the apartments were operating the STP without proper authorization. The inspection report also noted that the treatment process of the STP was non-compliant with the specified discharge standards.

Based on this inspection report, a show-cause notice was sent on 24.07.2017 to the N D Sepal Apartment Owners Association asking them to respond in 7 days time, to which the apartment owners never responded. In light of these events, KSPCB should have issued closure notice to the apartment asking them to immediately shut down the STP but no such action has been taken as on date. If KSPCB had discharged its regulatory responsibilities, three lives could have been saved.

This is the third in a series of incidents in the last 18 months where workers with no experience of STP maintenance have been made to clean them and have died in the process. On 17th Oct 2016, two workers Venkatesh (27) and Manjunath (30) had died while cleaning the STP at RNS Shantinivas Apartments in Yeshwantpur. On June 1, 2017, Prithviraj (23) had died in the STP at Jatti Dwarkamayi Apartments in Whitefield. These deaths could have been prevented if the Board while mandating establishment of STPs in apartments had asked the question of who will clean these STPs and put in place guidelines on cleaning of STPs in compliance with the provisions of the Prevention of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. But keeping in with the casteist origin of the practice of Manual Scavenging no such guidelines were prescribed leading to the death of 6 workers, two of them Dalits. In light of the above facts, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi Karnataka demands that an urgent meeting of the Board be convened and following actions be taken:-

  1. All unauthorised and non-compliant STPs should be shut down immediately;
  2. The Board should issue immediate notification prohibiting engagements of human beings for cleaning, repair and maintenance of the STPs which is a criminal offence as per Section 7 of The Prevention of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013;
  3. The Board should issue detailed guidelines on Operation and Maintenance including cleaning of STPs prescribing procedures which are complaint with provisions of The Prohibition of Manual Scavenging and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.

Lastly the Police should add penal sections of The Prevention of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 as well as the Sec 304 Part II of Indian Penal Code to the existing FIRs.

For more information, please contact

Mr. K B Obalesh

State Convener, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi Karnataka

Ph: +91 97425 86468

Media Coverage

  1. ‘No approval was sought for STP where 3 manual scavengers died’, Times of India, Feb 1, 2018.

2016: State-level Jatha in Karnataka

In March 2016, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi (SKKS) in collaboration People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL-Karnataka), JAC, SJK, Samanatha Union, SC/STs Pourakarmika Union and various district level organizations organized a state-level jatha (campaign) to create mass awareness about eradication of manual scavenging practice and demanding the implementation of PEMSR Act 2013. The jatha aimed at mainstreaming issues of Manual Scavengers and mobilizing public opinion in favor of eradication of practice of manual scavenging.

Jatha Begins

The demands raised by the jatha including implementation of rehabilitation schemes under PEMSR Act 2013. The jatha which began on 22 March covered 20 districts of the state. The jatha was also video-recorded as part of a documentary on the issue and the footage from the final rally has been used in a Kannada film titled Amravathi (released in 2017) which raises the issues of contract safaikarmacharis. The jatha released an open letter addressed to MPs, MLAs, MLCs and Ministers, drawing their attention towards the recurring deaths of MS, deliberate denial of their rights and entitlements because of negligence of officials in the implementing MS Act 2013.

Open Letter Released by the Jatha

Mr. H K Patil, Minister for Rural Development & Panchayat Raj received the memorandum during the jatha and assured to issue notification for conducting full-fledged survey as per provisions of PEMSR Act 2013.

Tumkuru District Collector accepting Memorandum from the Jatha

The jatha concluded with a state-level protest on 31st March in front of Chief Ministers’ residence in Bengaluru after which a delegation met the Chief Minister and submitted a memorandum of demands to him.

Jatha participants speaking to RDPR Minister Sh. H K Patil

After this state-level mobilization, the impact of the jatha led to announcement of several decision in the interests of MS/SK:-

  1. The State Government announced the formation of an independent Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Development Corporation (SKDC) for the welfare and rehabilitation of safaikarmacharis and manual scavengers, with initial budget allocation of Rs. 25 Crores.
  2. The State Cabinet also took a decision to prepare a draft bill for special recruitment of contract safaikarmacharis thereby regularizing their services fixing the deadline of March 2017 for its implementation.
  3. State government revised minimum wages of safaikarmacharis across the state with effect from 4th August 2016. With this, minimum wages were revised in following manner: –

Table 1: Revised Minimum Wages for Contract Safaikarmachris as per ULB employer

AreaMinimum wage
Bruhat Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP) and other municipal corporationsRs. 14,040/- per month (from Rs. 6800 earlier)
City corporationsRs. 13, 650/- per month
MunicipalitiesRs. 13,260/- per month
Town Panchayats and Gram PanchayatsRs. 12,870/- per month

Final Rally in Bangalore