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  • Writer's pictureManvita Baradi

Recognising the Unrecognised -A Big Win for Sanitation Workers Nationally

Sanitation workers in India have faced caste-based discrimination, occupational stigma, loss of health and life, and invisibility within the system. Inter-generationality in sanitation work is very high and it is difficult for them to break this vicious cycle and pursue alternate livelihoods. To right this generational injustice, in August, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) with Urban Management Centre as the technical support unit launched a dedicated scheme- NAMASTE (National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem). It focuses on ensuring safety and dignity of sanitation workers, eliminating fatalities in the sanitation work by promoting mechanisation in urban India, enhancing their occupational safety through capacity building and improved access to safety gear and machines.

NAMASTE intends to strengthen convergence among the various stakeholders at national, state and city level for ensuring better governance and implementation of the components of the action plan. The National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC) will provide subsidised loans to procure sanitation related equipment and vehicles under Swachhata Udyami Yojana (SUY) for mechanization of cleaning operations. NAMASTE will be implemented initially in 500 AMRUT cities over a period of 4 years.

With an aim to bring the voices of India's Sanitation Warriors to the forefront, laying emphasis on streamlining sanitation operations and formalizing the sector, and to ensure safety at work & dignified livelihood for Sanitation Workers, UMC as part of the NFSSM alliance with support from MoHUA launched 3 compendiums:

  1. SafaiMitra Suraksha aur Sammaan – Best Practices from Indian Cities

  2. SafaiMitra Suraksha ki MISAAL (documentation of 41 lighthouse cities under SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge)

  3. SafaiMitra Speak: Badlaav ki Kahaani (testimonials of SafaiMitras)

These compendiums are a compilation of leading practices from across the country and will be a ready reference for different cities to learn and adopt various initiatives towards improving the lives of sanitation workers in the city.. The compendium is divided into 5 thematic areas:

  1. Developing a favourable ecosystem for sanitation workers

  2. Access to finance for livelihood generation

  3. Capacity building of sanitation workers

  4. Enabling access to benefits for sanitation workers

  5. Improving the quality of life for sanitation workers


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