Jammu, Nov 9 : Despite ban on the manual scavenging in Jammu and Kashmir, over 1.70 lakh households out of the total 20 lakh in the state are still dependent on human waste carriers or in other words dependent upon manual scavenging.
As per the figures available from the census Operations 2011, an alarming 160804 households out of the total 1497920 households in rural areas of the state are dependent upon manual scavenging in comparison with the urban areas, where 17768 households out of the total 517168 households are dependent upon manual scavenging.
Officials said that manual scavenging, which is banned by law, is still prevalent in the state, even in both the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
Supreme Court has already taken exception over the failure of the state to file a detailed reply on a PIL filed by NGOs a few years back, demanding steps taken by the state government to stop the scavenging.
Although, the state government had passed the J&K Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Probation) Act-2010, but it has failed implement the Act, officials said.
They added that the menace of manual scavenging is still prevalent even in the capital cities of the state, especially Srinagar, where hundreds of people daily carry night soil on their shoulders.
"The issue of manual scavenging is deeply related to the larger issues of caste and untouchability in India. Though in Srinagar, the practice is still going on at several places”, said Nadeem Qadri, a social worker.
Sources in the Jammu Municipality however, said that the figures of the census don’t actually reflect the real picture. They said that the figures are not of manual scavenging but these reflect areas and households which don’t have modern flush system like septic tanks and their waste openly comes in the drains through pipes which in other terms can be termed as unhygienic.
Commissioner JMC, KL Khajuria said that the problem is more in Srinagar and not in Jammu city. “Due to our efforts, the practice has almost been stopped in Jammu’, he added.
Contesting the figures of manual scavenging, Khajuria said, “In interior areas of the city, many families don’t have modern flush system like septic tanks and their waste comes to the drains which is unhygienic”.
“This problem will also be soon overcome”, he claimed adding, “We have constructed three sewerage plants at Bhagwati Nagar out which one has already been made functional”.
He added that the waste of around 6000 households of Krishna Nagar and its adjoining areas is being treated in the treatment plant. “The waste of around 30,000 odd households of old city will also be treated in the sewerage plants after around one and a half year”, he added.