Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear SuSanA Members.
In continuation of my post on clean up of sewers and sewer systems, I post a few pictures showing the actual mode as to how thse sewers are cleaned and mantained .
The sludge removed will be left in open for it to dry in open exposed to sun Etc. And made easy to scoop out be removed ex site.
This type of clean up and removal of sludge is practised and in the whole operation no safeties and precautions are observed.
The details are given to Members to make aware to the concerned as to how these conditions and practices are improved in future.
Well wishes.
ps: I am having trouble in attaching the concerned pictures.
Ajit
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India
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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear SuSanA Members.

In continuation of my earlier post on clean up of sewers and sewer systems, in India,
I post a video- clip showing the actual mode as to how these sewers are cleaned and maintained .
Pl. use the link given to see the video- clip:

www.facebook.com/604960497/posts/1015779...id=q6TVXohzgWHL62uA/

It is relevant to see the 1st- 2 minutes,
( the rest 8 mins are taken up by the Volunteer Reporter explaining the lapse on the ULB Official Etc. )

the video- clip which shows as to how :
- the sludge is removed manually, using only one tool ie a scoop with a wooden handle,
- the sludge removed is left in open for it to dry in open exposed to sun Etc.
- After it is semi- dried it is removed ex site.

This type of clean up and removal of sludge is practiced and in the whole operation,
no safeties and precautions are observed.

The details are given to Members to make aware to the concerned
as to how these conditions and practices may be improved in future.

Well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India
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  • Ashok
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Prof Sheshadiri,
SusanA is a platform for intellectuals, knowledge and healthy interaction on Sanitation.
Please, for heaven's sake, do not make it a platform for political gain.
The video put up here is grossly out of context and highly political, in the time when elections in Delhi are round the corner.
Ashok
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Ashok,
I don't see anything wrong with the video that Ajit linked to. I only watched the start because he said:

It is relevant to see the 1st- 2 minutes,
( the rest 8 mins are taken up by the Volunteer Reporter explaining the lapse on the ULB Official Etc. )

I also don't speak the language that is used in the video so cannot comment if it's "political". Either way, it shows manual manhole and sewer cleaning, does it not?
It's appalling to see that companies in India are seemingly still employing workers in such conditions without any concern for their health (?). I bet it's illegal but the laws are not enforced, for whatever reason.

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • Ashok
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

In that case, I would request you to please truncate the videos after 2 minutes.
What is being said in our language is
"The present Chief Minister, Arvind Kejrival, is a corrupt man and for Rs 300 ($4) he is putting your life in jeopardy. Why do you vote for him?
etc. (Not exact translation)"
At least I find it unfit for SUSANA.
Ashok
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Oh, OK, I see. Which language is it? Hindi?
I don't know how to truncate such a video. One would have to download it from their Facebook page, edit it, and then upload it to Youtube, I guess.
What do other forum members think about this? Should the link to the video be removed or the video edited (I don't have the time or skills to edit it)?
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(with financial support by GIZ from July to October 2021)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • pkjha
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  • Working for over 30 years in the fields of sanitation, biogas from human wastes, septage management, waste water treatment in rural as well as urban areas in India and other developing countries.
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Prof Sheshadiri
Pl avoid abusing any Chief Minister of the state / political leader on the Forum and irrelevant postings. The Forum is meant for that. India is a huge country having full spectrum of socio-economic and cultural variations of communities. The video you posted may be the exception - not the rule and such exception can be found in every country- if you have time and interest. There is strict Law in India on prohibition of Manual Scavenging ( 2013).
Regards
Pawan
Pawan Jha
Chairman
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
Linked: linkedin.com/in/drpkjha
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  • Sittoni
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Elisabeth,

I have watched the entire video. The first two minutes are certainly relevant, but serious concerns have been raised about the divisive potential of the remaining footage. I suggest you pull down the link to the video until a suitably edited version of the version is obtained.
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  • paresh
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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am a patient person :)
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

I agree that the video shared by Prof. Sheshadri was made with political intent, the background being the procurement of sewer cleaning trucks by Govt. of Delhi and a scheme for free emptying of OSS in Delhi's colonies as reported
www.financialexpress.com/india-news/delh...ed-colonies/1765732/
But can we afford to neglect this heinous practice? Also in my opinion, we need to engage with politics because all development is certainly political and technology (through its entire cycle from development to adoption) is not apolitical.
We are all aware that despite strong legislation, manual scavenging is a reality in India. As also pointed out in the video, governments typically hire contractors for the job and turn a blind eye when human labour is employed for the task. Prof. Sharada Prasad from Azim Premji University has documented the work of sanitation across the country through multiple photo essays
1. Cleaning of sewers in Hyderabad - sharadaprasad.com/essays/sewers
2. Cleaning of stormwater drains - sharadaprasad.com/essays/stormsewage
3. Emptying pits and septic tanks - sharadaprasad.com/essays/trucks
4. Dry toilet cleaning - sharadaprasad.com/essays/nosewers
In all these stories, the inhuman working condition and poverty of sanitation workers is evident. None of them are seen to be using PPE. In my readings on the sector, I have not come across any study that has tried to understand the reasons for the same. We simply assume that PPE are not used to save money on the equipment ignoring the fact that their inappropriate design may also be a reason. As I understand, most of these were designed in the industrial world where the weather conditions are very different. Probably, a more suitable design of PPE is needed.
Yet, the need to enter sewer/manhole/pit should be extremely rare and I am aware of atleast one technology (Bandicoot, more details at www.genrobotics.org/bandicoot2 ) developed by students from Kerala.
So certainly, while there may be some gaps in design of PPE, technology to reduce human labour to clean sewers.pits is certainly available. The challenge is its wide-spread acceptance and use by governments, which are political decisions. In my humble opinion, this heinous practice cannot be eliminated without engaging with its politics.
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • paresh
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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am a patient person :)
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

I also agree that we can get into all these issues without name-calling or targetting any specific chief minister. At the same time, I also believe that members of this forum will look at relevant issues and ignore the name-calling, targetting etc.
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • pkjha
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  • Working for over 30 years in the fields of sanitation, biogas from human wastes, septage management, waste water treatment in rural as well as urban areas in India and other developing countries.
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Re: India bans human waste scavenging - and the definition of manual scavenging

Dear Elisabeth

There were some criticisms on the video on scavenging, mainly due to the fact that State election in Delhi was announced and under the strict Model Code of Conduct of election, such video, naming the Chief Minister of Delhi was questionable. Now the election is over, we can discuss the topic to suggest solution for the problem.

The issue of manual scavenging is a serious and pertinent. I want to make a few points clear. Initially (till 2011) the term manual scavenging was limited to manually cleaning of fresh human wastes from household toilets (bucket privies) by certain sub-caste of community (scavengers) who were also regarded as untouchables. However, such bucket privies have been converted to leach pit/ septic tank toilets under the TSC / NBA/ SBM program of the Government and there is no report of such manual scavengers, due to the Manual scavengers Liberation and Rehabilitation Act. There is no report of such bucket privies toilet now in India. (Scavenger community is not a single caste/religion, it contains Hindus, Muslims and Christians as well depending on the areas, in India).

Now the term Scavenging includes also manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewers. Such cleaners are not only from the scavengers’ community, rather from several other castes who may be socially from upper strata but economically from very lower group. Under the Scavengers Act, one can clean septic tank or sewers provided proper safety measures is provided by the employers, as per the norms mentioned in the above Act. There is provision of penalty and imprisonment also for employers of violating safety norms. The cleaning of sewers is mostly undertaken by the government contractors. In recent years, there are reported deaths of workers during cleaning of manholes and the state government provided financial support/compensation to such families. However, no legal action is reported against the employers/ contractors.

Mechanical devices of cleaning of sewers is very expensive for India due to its size. Proper awareness coupled with enforcement of the Act is the only practical solution to overcome the problem. The topic for Forum discussion is important. It may help collect information from other developing countries for low cost cleaning devices of sewers for small and medium towns.

Best regards
Pawan
Pawan Jha
Chairman
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
Linked: linkedin.com/in/drpkjha
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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Paresh and other Members,

I thank our Members for bringing up this matter for doing good to communities.

I wish to clarify that I didnot have in mind that my reference would imply such deep reflections and feel for the same.

We are Mariners and have always been trying to ensure that the work practices are carried out in safe and secure manner .

My intention of posting the video clip with a mention of the relevant part of the info and my cited inference were just that to make Members aware that whenever such un- safe practices are followed, to ensure that as far as possible safeties are followed.
Prudent actions taken at the right time save human lives and public property.

Above notings issued in the interest of the communities carrying out cleaning works in sewer and associated systems.

Well wishes,
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India
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