Why in the news?
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is now preparing to undertake a nationwide survey to enumerate all people engaged in hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, an activity that has led to at least 351 deaths since 2017.
- Ministry officials said that the enumeration exercise, soon to be conducted across 500 AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities, is part of the Union government’s National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE), which will streamline the process of rehabilitating sanitation workers and eventually merge with and replace the Self-Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS), which was started in 2007.
Features of the Scheme
The Government has formulated a scheme “National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE)”. The NAMASTE project is a joint project of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The project aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India.
- All sanitation work to be performed by skilled workers.
- No sanitation workers should come in direct contact with human fecal matter.
- Sanitation workers are to be collectivized into SHGs and are empowered to run sanitation enterprises.
- All Sewer and Septic tank sanitation workers (SSWs) have access to alternative livelihoods.
- Strengthened supervisory and monitoring systems at national, state and ULB levels to ensure enforcement and monitoring of safe sanitation work.
- Increased awareness amongst sanitation services seekers (individuals and institutions) to seek services from registered and skilled sanitation workers.
- Capital subsidies of upto 5 lakh on sanitation machinery costing upto 15 lakh
- Interest subsidies on loans, where interest rates will be capped between 4-6% for beneficiaries.
The scheme might be a turning point for the fate of people who are employed in this industry and faces not just the physical exploitation , but also the social (in the form of caste) and economic exploitation.
The Hindu, PIB