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18 Nov

Campaign on SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge

Campaign on SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge

Recently, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched a week-long awareness campaign on SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge (SSC) as part of the ‘World Toilet Day’ (19th November) celebrations, to run up to the ‘Swachh Amrit Diwas’.

  • The Swachh Amrit Diwas is an award ceremony to recognize the role and efforts of the states, cities, ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) and Cantonment Board in Swachh Survekshan 2021, and Garbage Free Star Rating certification on 20th November 2021.

World Toilet Day

  • In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 19th November as World Toilet Day. It is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners.
  • It aims to break the stigma around sanitation as the silence around the issue of toilets and sanitation has deadly consequences.
  • The theme for the year 2021 is about valuing toilets.

Key Points

  • About:
    • A total of 246 cities are participating in SSC which is being conducted across the country. The state capitals, urban local bodies and smart cities will be eligible to participate.
    • Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with a population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of Rs. 52 crore.
    • It is one of the government efforts to combat manual scavenging.
  • SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge (SSC):
    • SSC was launched on 19th November 2020 on the occasion of World Toilet Day.
    • SSC is aimed to encourage cities to mechanise their sewer and septic tank cleaning operations in order to prevent deaths and fatalities of sanitation workers from ‘hazardous entry’.
      • The Government launched this “challenge” for all states to make sewer-cleaning mechanised by April 2021 — if any human needs to enter a sewer line in case of unavoidable emergency, proper gear and oxygen tanks, etc., are to be provided.
  • Initiatives Taken:
    • Under SSC, National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, supported by MoHUA are organizing Loan Melas across the country.
      • The aim is to help Safaimitras avail loans under the Swachhata Udyami Yojana (SUY) for procurement of sewer/ septic tank cleaning machine/ equipment for mechanized cleaning.
    • Skill development training of Safaimitras have also been conducted through the support of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment via NSKFDC in 115 cities.
    • Call Centre and Helpline number have been operationalized in 345 cities for safe cleaning of septic tanks/sewers and registering complaints on hazardous cleaning.
    • 31 states/UTs have established a Responsible Sanitation Authority (RSA) and 210 cities are having the Sanitation Response Units (SRU).
    • All 246 participating cities have already notified a ban on single-use plastic (SUP).

Manual Scavenging

  • About:
    • Manual scavenging is defined as “the removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers”.
    • The practise of manual scavenging is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes were expected to perform this job.
    • Officially, the number of manual scavengers dropped to 42,303 in 2018 from 7,70,338 in 2008. The survey of manual scavengers in 2018 was conducted by the NSKFDC.
  • Related Initiatives:
    • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020:
      • It prohibits construction or maintenance of insanitary latrines, and employment of any person for manual scavenging or hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
    • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013:
      • The act seeks to reinforce the prohibition of manual scavenging in all forms and ensures the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
    • Prevention of Atrocities Act:
      • It delineates specific crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
    • National Commission of Safai Karamcharis:
      • The Commission is acting as a non-statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment whose tenure is extended from time to time through Government Resolutions.
    • Swachh Bharat Mission:
      • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a national campaign launched by the Government on 2nd October, 2014 to clean the streets, roads and build social infrastructure of the country.

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