Safai Karmachari

Despite the importance of Safai Karamcharis in ensuring Clean India; they live in dire conditions and perish. What are the problems faced by Safai Karmacharis? Discuss the initiatives taken by the government in addressing these problems and evaluate their successes. (200 Words)

Safai Karamcharis normally include persons engaged as ‘Sweepers‘ or ‘sanitation/cleaning workers‘ in municipalities, government and private offices. These sanitation workers face many problems during execution of task and which has ill after effects.
The major problems faced by them are: 
  1. Absence of adequate protective gear, and the hazardous working conditions, violating Article 42 of Indian Constitution, due to which their mortality rate is unusually high.
  2. Heart-related problems, asthma and tuberculosis are common diseases among them.
  3. Many of them also die on-duty due to road accidents
  4. They have to collect really hazardous garbage, especially in slums and colonies. They have to inhale hazardous gases emanating from the rotting garbage which irritates them and affects their mental health too.
  5. They face social discrimination, considered ‘kachrawala‘ rather than ‘safaiwala‘.
  6. They lack economic security and in case of death at workplace the compensation amount is meagre and their dependents do not get jobs on compassionate grounds.
Government has taken various steps to provide assistance and improve the conditions of Safai karmacharis. The major such initiatives are:
  1. National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC), 1997, as an Apex Institution for all round socio-economic upliftment of the Safai Karamcharis and their dependents and to extend concessional financial assistance to the Safai Karamcharis beneficiaries for establishment of income generating projects.
  2. National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers (1992) to provide alternate employment to the scavengers and their dependents.
  3. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993.
  4. Pre-matric Scholarships for the Children of those engaged in unclean occupations.
  5. Valmiki Malin Basti Awas Yojna (VAMBAY), 2001, with the aim to provide shelter.
All these initiatives have however not been rigorously implemented and their success still remains a distant dream, especially the Manual Scavengers Act of 1993. Safai karmacharis still are devoid of their right to healthy living and working  conditions, social inclusion and economic protection.



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