Sewer And Septic Tank Cleaning Claimed 347 Lives Since 2017, Says Centre

New Delhi: As many as 347 people have died since 2017 due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said on Tuesday, news agency PTI reported.

Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar noted that 92 such deaths were recorded in 2017, 67 in 2018, 116 in 2019, 19 in 2020, 36 in 2021 and 17 deaths in 2022.

Manual scavenging is a banned practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act, 2013.

In 2014, the Supreme Court prohibited anyone from stepping inside septic tanks for cleaning as it contains high amounts of toxic gasses. The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.

But, according to a report published last year, Uttar Pradesh has reported a maximum number of cases with 52 deaths followed by Tamil Nadu (43), Delhi (36), Maharashtra (34), and 31 each in Gujarat and Haryana, reported.

The Safai Karamchari Andolan has launched a campaign against sewer and septic tank deaths. The national convenor of the Andolan, Bezwada Wilson tweeted, Laws are easy to make but it is toughest to get them implemented in their right spirit.” In another tweet, he noted that symbolic representation never benefits a community or social group. Only groundbreaking efforts create history. Nothing like this is done to prevent deaths in sewers & septic tanks.

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