Category Archives: skks

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.

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.