Despite laws and Supreme Court orders, sanitary workers continue to enter sewers and septic tanks; many have lost their lives in the past two decades while cleaning human waste. Among states, Tamil Nadu has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest number of deaths of manual scavengers, as per data. It witnessed again on 22 April 2022, three conservancy workers have died due to asphyxiation while cleaning a sewage tank in Nehru Nagar, Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The reasons behind on these are irresponsibility and carelessness of the respective officials.
In Salem district, all the sanitary work and manual scavenging are done by the particular community called Arunthathiyar. This low dignified work makes them as untouchable and exclude from the main stream community. The poverty and lack of income generating resources force them to this menial work for a meager wages. The wages are range from Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per day or monthly Rs. 3000. The lack of awareness and insufficient support from government make more vulnerable for these kinds of incidents.
To give awareness to this worker, one day awareness program was organized in RWDT office, Tharamangalam. More than 60 scavenging workers participated in this program. In this program, Fr. Philomin Raj, From Madurai Legal awareness Center gave awareness speech and also explained the security schemes and relief for the workers. Also he explained the rehabilitation facilities for the victims of manual scavengers. In the beginning, Mrs. V.Alamelu, Director of Rural women development trust, gave welcome address to all. At the end of the program all the participants were supported dry ration kits.