Lives Wasted In Gutters

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.”

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  1. Manual scavenging is a national disgrace. We should do everything to stop it, seeking wide support and giving the Governments a deadline to take strong action.

  2. ture india…………

  3. Government should provide people with masks and gloves. This is plain and simple murdering people, if you allow them to go in there without protection.

  4. This article is very confusing. Are these people Dalit or untouchables? Does Indian government have a policy to appoint certain castes for certain jobs?(from the article that seems to be the case) and in that case, shouldn’t you rather criticize the government’s recruitment policy,instead of talking about people’s lack of awareness?

  5. Thans for your comment.

    Regarding the confusion on Dalit and untouchable, Dalit is merely another way of naming untouchable. Dalit means “broken people” and because the terms reflects the experience of exploitation untouchables generally go through, it is usually the one they prefer to use when referring to themselves.

    Also, to our knowledge, the Indian Government has no policy to appoint certain category of people to jobs such as those shown in the video. But these jobs are usually profoundly despised by the majority of the population, and traditionally attached to the untouchable community. Because most of them are illiterate, they often have no other choices than taking up these jobs.

    But the focus of the article was more the negligence of the government, that do not provide with required equipment and protection, and thus put their lives at risk.
    These jobs are highly exploitative, but without protection they turn deadly.

    Hope it will answer your questions, and clarify the article.
    Please keep watching our videos.

  6. it clearly shows the lack of genuine will on part of politicians and the people to eradicate the problem even after sixty years of independence.

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