A bill prohibiting manual scavenging can be passed in the Budget Session if Parliament exhibits its resolve to eliminate this "despicable" practice, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here today.
"I urge the Parliament to support the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill...If we resolve, we can pass this bill in two three months," he said at a function.
The Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre earlier this month for failing to enact the law banning manual scavenging. The Bill is pending in Parliament.
According to the Bill, the District Magistrate has to ensure that no person within his jurisdiction is engaged as a manual scavenger or constructs an insanitary latrine and manual scavengers are rehabilitated.
It makes it mandatory for municipalities, cantonment boards and railway authorities to construct adequate number of sanitary community latrines within three years of this Act coming into force.
If anyone employs a manual scavenger or constructs an insanitary latrine, he shall be penalised with imprisonment up to one year or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both.
Describing manual scavenging as "despicable", Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar lamented that the caste system and untouchability in the county have given rise to such a practice.
She said "unless the society cleanse its mind of all the ills, no amount of effort can get rid of such practices."
The Speaker said Parliament should also rise to the occasion to meet the expectations of the nation and the House should be allowed to function to conduct its business.
Referring to ambitious Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan Campaign, Ramesh said the mission can only be successful if it becomes a "social obsession".
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