Free Valmikis from scavenging job, let higher castes clean their own dirt- Dalit scavengers dying while cleaning sewer are our '"cleanliness martyrs'- Tarun Vijay in Rajya Sabha
Raising the issue of scavengers' deaths during sewer cleaning, BJP MP Tarun Vijay said in Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour that these 'cleanliness-martyrs' dont get any attention because they are treated like 'insects'. According to one estimate more than 22 thousand deaths occur every year . Though Supreme Court has ruled that in each case an immediate compensation of Rs ten lakhs be given yet in many cases the compensation given is as low as Rs 60 thousand and still their families have to run from pillar to post to get that.
Stating that its unfortunate to see only Valmikis caste among scheduled castes being engaged for the scavenging work, Tarun Vijay said that by law Valmikis should be prohibited from getting engaged in this work . Free Valmikis from this stigma, and let the so called higher castes clean their own dirt. Why should they need Valmikis to do this sewere cleaning? Is it ordained by any Shastra that only such a csaste will do the sewer cleaning? Tarun Vijay told media persons.
He stgated that such sewer deaths are occuring in almost all states, as per the records of National Commission of Safai Karamcharis- and reports have been rceived from Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamilnadu also.
Tarun Vijay showed a copy of New Indian Express of 23rd January 2016, which carried the pic of a 19 year old teen 's body who died while cleaning sewer in Villupuram, Tamilnadu.
Tarun Vijay said that these scavemngers are doing a work that nobody will be ready to do. Instead of honouring them, respecting them and giving them a reasonable salary, they often get as low a salary as Rs two thousand per month. I demand that their minimum slary be increased to rs 20 thousand per month, Tarun Vijay said. while quoting a letter from Mr M Pugalendhi, President of Dr Ambedkar Adi Andhra Scavenger's Liberation Forum.
Tarun Vijay quoted a Supreme Court judgement which clearly stated that" entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations. For each such death compensation of Rs 10 lakhs should be given to the family of the deceased. " But, Tarun Vijay said that in most cases the family of such decesaed has to struggle to get the compensation .
Why are we so insensitive to these 'angels of cleanliness? Tarun Vijay asked. Becuase dalits dying while doing the cleaning job do not have any vote bank?