20,000 People Demand End to Manual Scavenging in Surendranagar District
August 5, Surendranagar, Gujarat — The Surendranagar District Collector (DC) will hold a meeting with the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the districts’ seven municipalities, to investigate the ongoing practice of employing manual scavenging in the region, in the following week. The issue was brought to the notice of the DC by Video Volunteers,media and human rights organisation, on August 1st, Monday, when it submitted a video as proof of manual scavenging being practised, along with a petition with more than 20,000 signatures of people across the country. The petition, submitted by Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Bipin Solanki, demanded that that justice and action against the negligent attitude of Dhrangadra Municipality for blatantly violating the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013).
“The DC was surprised that manual scavenging is still practised in his district. He said that he will set up a committee for regular monitoring of the region’s sanitation work,” said Solanki, whose video is responsible for highlighting the ongoing issue. Solanki reports on human rights violations, particularly caste-based discrimination in Surendranagar.
“Even as thousands of Dalits are protesting the streets of Gujarat, it is an outrage to see the persistent practice of manual scavenging in Dhrangadhra Municipality and many other places”, said Stalin K., Directors of Video Volunteers.
The video was highlighted by Solanki in May through a video report. The report highlights how Umesh, 23, a young man belonging to Valmiki caste, enter filthy sewers without any protective gears and cleaning equipment and clean it with their bare hands. Such employment without protective gear and equipment is an offence by the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013).
The video exposes Dhrangadra CEO’s denial of the existence of manual scavenging. She is seen passing the blame on to the contractor “These workers are not our responsibility since they are hired by a contractor. I am well-aware that such actions are illegal and thus the municipality does not engage any manual scavengers,” Mori had told Solanki.
Enraged by the negligence of administration and their lack of empathy, Video Volunteers, a media and human rights organisation, had launched an online petition, appealing to the District Collector to take action against Charu Mori and appealed for the effective and periodic monitoring of sanitation work. Over a period of three months, the petition gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
By Sangeeta R (Video Volunteers)