Manual Scavenging >>
(Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, Jan 27, 2013)

Update Maila Mukti Yatra

We are happy to share Update 4 of Maila Mukti Yatra with you. Maila Mukti Yatra has started with a nationwide call for total eradication of manual scavenging practice from Bhopal on 30th November 2012. Through the Yatra, Caravan of liberated women and social activist are able to liberate thousands of manual scavengers in different parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa; Yatra interned in Andhra Pradesh from Vijaynagaram on 22nd December 2012. During 22nd December 2012 to 17th January 2013 Yatra travelled in 54 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

During the Yatra we liberated Dalit women those were engaged in the practice by women leaders who already left manual scavenging. Yatra has been associated and sensitized other sections of the society and involved them in this liberation movement. It has provided common platform to the liberated women to fight for their rights; rehabilitation and increasing the government will to address the issue, including new legislation. During the Yatra liberated women and activists continuously travelling, singing Bhajan and liberation songs, conducting community meetings with manual scavengers for liberation from this inhuman practice, conducting activities with Dalit children, burning the baskets, meetings with government officers and politicians, eradicating untouchability in public places, foot march in the villages and towns, mobilization of larger dalit community to support this liberation movement.

40 year old Choti Bai from Rajasthan was forced to clean human excreta with her bare hands when she was a child, until a few years back when she was rescued. There are thousands of women like her who still perform this illegal practice because of their gender and their caste. Along with hundreds of women, a month back she started a tour across India to create awareness in India, rescue more women like her and take these demands to PM Manmohan Singh telling him to end this practice of Manual Scavenging in India.
Please sign the petition: https://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/pm-manmohan-singh-eradicate-manual- scavenging-practice-from-india-manualscavenging. Till now more than 1500 peoples sign this petition from 15 countries.

Under the Maila Mukti Yatra Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan launched a Mobile Campaign with the active participation of Amnesty International for demanding the total eradication of inhuman slavery of manual scavenging and support to Maila Mukti Yatra by calling this number 09266638869. More than 1000 signatures and 250 voices massages we have received to support the Yatra.

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Andhra Pradesh:

Maila Mukti Yatra was organized in 8 cities as mentioned below and press conference held at Press Club Hyderabad on 25th December 2012. Door to Door rally took place in Vizayanaram and we identified more than 800 workers are still engaged in the manual scavenging practice (clearing septic tank, dry toilets and railway tracks). Community meeting took place in Giripurm locality of Vijaywada where 40 houses were involved in practice; mainly cleaning septic tanks, sewage lines and open defecation cleaning are the forms of manual scavenging. Community Meeting held at Valimkinagar, near Charminar of Hyderabad and our estimation is that more than 1500 are municipal workers those are working contractual basis are engaged in manual scavenging work. The Dalit Alliance and JaiBharat, Hyderabad provided local support during the Yatra.
Importantly, students of TISS, Hyderabad invited the Yatra to their campus and had interaction with students. Overwhelming welcome and financial contribution by students and faculty members was remarkable support for the Yatra. Community meeting held in Erabruz of Karnool in 10 localities were our community people are compelled to do manual scavenging. Yatra reached Cuddpa on 27th December and meeting held at Manuspetta area.

Tamil Nadu:

We had meeting with Arundhtiyar community in Pallavaram area of Chennai. Largely municipal workers were involved in clearing septic tanks and manholes. Mainly three communities are involved in manual scavenging practice in Tamilnadu such are Aadhi Andra (Madiga's), Arundhtiyar's and Thotti community. Aadhi Andhra community people are mainly working in areas those are close to Andhra Pradesh state; Arundhtiyar community is residing in central region of the state and Thotti community is in coastal area. TAMS, Chennai coordinated the event in Chennai. According to the Census of India 2011, where the human excreta are cleaned up by humans. Importantly, 36,986 dry latrines are exists in Tamilnadu where human excreta cleaned up by manual Scavengers. In addition, 18493 are such dry latrines where animal are cleaning human excreta and 147944 are such dry latrine where night soil is disposed into open drain. However, as per our knowledge even such dry latrines are cleaned by workers involved in manual scavenging. Therefore, at present in Tamilnadu state there are 2,03,423 dry latrines exists where manual scavenging practice is continues.

Karnataka:

KGF: Maila Mukti Yatra reached Kollar Gold Field on 30th December and conducted community meeting at Telguline, Kandeebasti of Kollar Gold Field. Mainly Madiga community people are engaged in manual scavenging practice. Presently 40 families are engaged in septic tanks cleaning and open drainage lines. Moreover, last year, 3 workers died while cleaning septic tanks in Kollar Gold filed. Even after receiving compensations of Rs 3 lack to each their families but still family members are engaged in work. Next day morning the Rally was organized from Telgu Line to Municipal Corporation office and liberated women had given memorandum to Municipal Commissioner to stop manual scavenging practice in KGF. From KGF Yatra travelled to Pavaguda on 31st December and had community meeting. 'Scavengers Vigilance Committee' and PUCL, Karnataka organized meetings in Pavaguda. Approximately 750 workers are workings on contract basis mainly cleaning septic tank and open defecation area. From Pavaguda the Yatra travelled to Bangalore city.
In Bangalore city underground drainage line is in only 100 wards and toilets in remaining 90 to 98 wards are not connected to UGD therefore large number of septic tanks are exists where human excreta is cleaned manually. In addition, in many places night soil is deposed into open drainage lines. Therefore, cleaning septic tanks and clearing night soil from open drainage lines are major forms of manual scavenging existed in Bangalore city. Press conference held in Bangalore on 2nd January at press club and thereafter Yatra members interacted with the more than 200 students of St. Joseph College at Bangalore.
Yatra went to Chitradurga. Through community meeting we came to know that 7 workers are private manual scavengers those are cleaning septic tanks in Boudhha Nagar of Chitradurga city. It is estimated that approximately 800 worker are compelled to carry out manual scavenging work in Chitradurga. From Chitradurga Maila Mukti Yatra travelled to Maharashtra state via Bijapur on 4th January 2013.
During the Yatra, we had interaction with several Unions of Safai Karamcharies; it was quite evident that their perspective is totally different from us. The Yatra is struggling and fighting with Non Dalit powerful communities and with the government for total liberation from this slavery. However, these Unions or organizations are addressing issues like wages, equipments, reservation for community in this work, uniform, gloves and trolley. Henceforth, the Yatra participant and liberated women also conducted meetings with the unions for sharing the perspective and it was very important process of Yatra.

Maharashtra:

Maila Mukti Yatra was welcomed in Mangalweda village of Solapur district and headed towards Pandharpur, Pune, Thane and Mumbai. Pandarpur is important pilgrimage in Maharashtra. Every year close to 10 lakh devotee gather in Pandharpur. Through local activist we found out that there is a shortage of 13,000 public toilets in Pandharpur town to cater to the influx of pilgrims. This leads to defecation in the open and employment of manual scavengers. Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) and Nirman provided local support to Yatra in Pune. Pune and Thane are no different than rural part. Here people are employed as Sweeper and ask to clean dry toilet, septic tank.
While entering in Mumbai, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai has organized a half day consultation. Mumbai is well known for its limelight and economic capital, here we visited and did community meeting in heart of Mumbai, i.e Coloba. Around 200 household of sanitary worker, sweeper, septic tank cleaner, all included class four workers. Since last 50 years this locality has seen generation by generation engaged in cleaning work. We had organized press conference at Mumbai Press Club on 7th January where more than 25 journalist and electronic media attended the conference.

Gujarat:

Navsarjan Trust coordinated and hosted the Yatra in Gujarat. We visited districts like Surat, Navasari, Bharuch, Anand, Ahmedabad and Himatnagar. In each district we had community meeting and press conference. According to government records, in Gujarat, there are 2566 dry latrines and an additional 4890 dry latrines where night soil is serviced by animals and 25,234 dry latrines where night soil is disposed into a drain. But the numbers are higher than that government estimation. Navsarjan Trust estimated 65000 manual scavengers working in Gujarat. Importantly, community people supported the yatra by financial contribution of Rs 2500. Navsarjan Trust and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan organized a joint press conference at BSC, St. Xavier's College, Ahmadabad.

Rajasthan:

Through the campaign, we had organized community meetings in Udaipur, Bhilwara, Chittod, Hudda, Ajmer, Pushkar, Purani Basti of Jaipur and Koutputali of Rajasthan. Representatives from Safai Karmchari Andolan also participated in Raipur event. In Bhansoda village five women manual scavengers got liberated and women took initiative to eradicate untouchability practice by drinking tea at village tea stall which was not allowed earlier for Valimiki community. After that Yatra had community meetings in Hudda and Udaipur city where totally 11 women liberated. Chairperson of State Commission for Safai Karmcharies also participates in community event at Bhilwara and presented the work don by state government on manual scavenging issue. Participant women of Yatra also presented the issues regarding the manual scavenging, untouchability and discrimination in Rajasthan.
To extend solidarity for the Yatra two International Organization participated during the Yatra such as Karuna Trust, London; two representatives participated in Yatra in Mumbai and International Labour Organization, One representative participated in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

The culmination of Yatra will be organized at Annexy, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on 31st January 2013 at 12.00 noon. We request your participation for culmination program of this Yatra which will provide a lot of support to the cause.

Thanks,

In solidarity,

Ashif Shaikh and Lali Bai,
Convenor,
Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan


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