Ahead of the Assembly elections in five states, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the extension of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) term for three years which was set to expire on March 31, 2022.
The total financial implication of this extension would be nearly Rs 43.68 crore and the major beneficiaries would be the ‘safai karamcharis’ and identified manual scavengers in the country. The number of manual scavengers identified under the Manual Scavenging Act Survey as on December 31, 2021, is 58,098.
The NCSK was established in 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act, 1993, initially till March 31, 1997. Later, the validity of the Act was initially extended up to March 31, 2002, and thereafter upto February 29, 2004.
The National Commission of Safai Karmacharis Act ceased to have effect from February 29, 2004, and after that the tenure of the Commission has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time through resolutions.
The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Union government regarding specific programmes for the welfare of safai karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for safai karmacharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
As per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the Commission has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Central and state governments, and enquire into complaints regarding contravention or non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
Though the government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the safai karamcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated. Manual scavenging has been almost eradicated but sporadic instances do occur, therefore, it also keeps a check on them.
Hazardous cleaning of sewer or septic tanks continues to be an area of the highest priority for the government, therefore, it was the need of the hour that the Commission continued to monitor the various interventions and initiatives of the government for the welfare of safai karamcharis and to achieve the goal of complete mechanisation of sewer, septic tank cleaning and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.