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Manual sewer cleaners struggle to find other jobs

PTI | GAURAV SAINI
Published : Jan 28, 2019, 2:13 am IST
Updated : Jan 28, 2019, 2:13 am IST

Of those who were provided skill development training, many left the jobs they were given due to non-payment of salaries and unwillingness to travel.

The initiative, aimed at eradicating manual scavenging and finding alternative employment for the participants, had come amid an intense debate on the deaths of workers while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in Delhi.
 The initiative, aimed at eradicating manual scavenging and finding alternative employment for the participants, had come amid an intense debate on the deaths of workers while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in Delhi.

New Delhi: Three months after the Delhi administration completed a first-of-its-kind skill development programme for 50 manual scavengers and provided them alternative means of livelihood, many have returned to cleaning sewers, citing lack of regular income and harassment at workplace.

The initiative, aimed at eradicating manual scavenging and finding alternative employment for the participants, had come amid an intense debate on the deaths of workers while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in Delhi.

In an early setback to the Shahdara district administration-led programme, a number of manual scavengers selected for the three-month training course, which started in August last year, withdrew within a week, according to those who completed the exercise.

Of those who were provided skill development training, many left the jobs they were given due to non-payment of salaries and unwillingness to travel. Those who could not be placed immediately returned to the hazardous work to keep their households running. Suraj Kumar, 38, who has been cleaning sewers without safety gear in northeast Delhi for 19 years, said he was given a caretaker’s job at a dosshouse in GTB Nagar with a salary of `14,000 a month, but he did not take it. “People who drink a lot and create nuisance throng such places, many are criminals,” he said. “I have not been informed about any other opportunities since November. With no options available, I returned to the old job,” said Kumar, who earns about `10,000 a month collecting waste and cleaning sewers by hand.

Officials told the manual scavengers they’d be hired as drivers, operators and helpers for the 200 sewer cleaning machines the Delhi government is planning to purchase, but things have moved at a snail’s pace on this front, those who underwent the training course said.

Tags: skill development programme, manual scavengers