DMPQ-. Discuss the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge to end the manual scavenging by 2021.

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court expressly prohibit hazardous cleaning, i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures. Despite this, recurring episodes of human fatalities among those engaged in cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, typically belonging to the economically disadvantaged and marginalized communities of society, continue to be an issue of concern.

Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge has been launched during the period 19 November 2020 – 15 August 2021. It aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning.

The Challenge, aptly launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day, is aimed at preventing ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks and promote their mechanized cleaning. The Chief Secretaries, State Mission Directors and other senior State/ Union Territory and city officials have come together to take a pledge on behalf of 243 cities to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021, and gave their commitment to work towards preventing any deaths from hazardous entry.

The Challenge will focus extensively on creating citizen awareness on this critical issue along with infrastructure creation for mechanized cleaning and capacity building of workforce. Along with this, a dedicated helpline number has been set up to register complaints and provide real-time solutions on desludging or sewer overflow. The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021. Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of Rs 52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.

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