Saving sanitation workers: Laws or behavioral change?

Though we may have heard that manual scavenging is a thing of the past, the reality check is a shocker. In a small time span of just about a month, as many as 10 sanitation workers died. The only relief, though too late for the poor souls lost is that the government has responded with prompt action and focused on the implementation part of the law it had framed long ago.

The authorities have made it clear that limiting manual scavenging to cleaning of pit latrines is narrow mindedness. So one of the initial steps is to accept the reality and then take remedial action. The sanitation workers must be provided with apt tools and preventive gears to protect them from filth and diseases. It is high time we realise that sanitation workers are an indispensable part of our society and they must be treated with respect. It is a universal conviction beyond doubt that the solution to improving the lives of sanitation workers is more about a vital behavioral change than about any punitive action through law.

At the end it may cross many of our informed minds, how effective on-site degradation of faecal waste through organic ways could be in solving this menace. Lives have been lost. Besides grieving, we must vow to make a change.

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