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Posted at: Dec 17, 2015, 12:35 AM; last updated: Dec 16, 2015, 10:56 PM (IST)

In J-K, most manual scavengers can’t get rehab benefits

Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16

A majority of the manual scavengers in the state are not entitled to the benefits of the rehabilitation schemes formulated for them.

The National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents has proved futile in the state.

Official data reveals that there are 2,906 manual scavengers in the state.

“A majority of the manual scavengers have been tagged as non-permanent residents so they cannot take the benefits of the schemes, especially formulated for their rehabilitation,” said Garu Bhatti, president of the Valmiki Colony, Jammu, who is spearheading a struggle demanding the basic rights to the manual scavengers.

The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has extended a number of schemes to liberate and rehabilitate manual scavengers but the deserving lot is deprived of such schemes due to the special status of the state.

“A majority of the manual scavengers originally belong to Punjab so they cannot avail themselves of the benefit of the rehabilitation schemes,” Bhatti said. The manual scavengers were called from Punjab in 1957 to employ them as safai karamcharis when local scavengers had gone on a strike.

Over 250 families of scavengers were brought in from the Gurdaspur and Amritsar areas of Punjab with a promise to provide them all constitutional rights like other citizens of J&K. The number of families has increased to over 5,000.

The caste certificates being issued to the scavengers mention that they are NPRs, debarring them from taking the benefits of all rehabilitation schemes.

The state government recently launched some schemes to liberate and rehabilitate manual scavengers but to get the benefits of the schemes one should be a permanent residents of the state.

Various schemes were launched under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 but a majority of the manual scavengers cannot avail themselves of the benefits of the schemes as they are NPRs.


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