Two manual scavengers were killed while working without any safety
masks or gloves which necessarily have to be provided by the government. Men – particularly from the Chuhar, Mehathar, Halalkhor, Lalbaghi, Bangi, Thotti and Jamadar lower castes – are commonly employed as manual scavengers and sewage cleaners in India. These caste subgroups are generally referred to as Valkimis. A Valmiki is considered to be the lowest of the low in the caste hierarchy. In Ludhiana, 90-95 percent of the Valmiki community are engaged in this horrendous work; everyday their lives are under threat and their dignity is taken away.
In this video our community correspondent, Jaikumar, highlights the dangers of this work. He urges the government to make safety provisions for these cleaners who work in sewers; the drains often contain abnormally high percentage of carbon dioxide, varying amounts of methane, hydrogen & hydrogen sulphide and a low percentage of oxygen. When cleaners are directly exposed to these gases they fall sick and even, as this video shows, die immediately.
Jai Kumar speaks about his community, “Members of my community are poor and there are high levels of illiteracy. They aren’t aware of the dangers attached to these jobs or of other opportunities available. It is crucial that they educated about the risks involved. Only then will they be empowered to demand safety equipment and even an end to this practice all together.”