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282 ‘sewer deaths’ in last 4 years reported

A question was put forth by BJP MP, Sushil Kumar Singh, on December 3 in the Lok Sabha regarding rehabilitation of Manual scavengers. He asked about deaths due to manual scavenging and details of identified manual scavengers and their rehabilitation.

07 Dec 2019

DeathImage Courtesy: theprint.in

In response to a question related to manual scavenging, the government said that there are no reports regarding deaths of persons due to manual scavenging but admitted there have been deaths due to cleaning of sewers and septic tanks as recorded by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. The PUDR report titled “Chronic ‘Accidents’: Deaths of Sewer/Septic Tank Workers, Delhi, 2017-2019” as contended that official bodies have attempted to create a false distinction between the manual scavengers and sewer/septic tank cleaners so as to give priority should be given to manual scavengers. PUDR argues that such official narratives cause sanitation workers to be relegated to the background and questions as to the rights of sewer workers are left out of the debate.

As per data from the Commission, 282 sewer deaths have taken place since 2016 until November 6, 2019 in the country. Out of these, families of 156 deceased persons have received compensation under the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. That is just bit more than half of the deceased persons families receiving such compensation.

About Manual Scavenging and sewer cleaning

On October 2, 2014, the Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission with the aim to achieve universal sanitation coverage within five years as a “fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi” on his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2019. While the Government lauds the success of the Mission covering 99.2 per cent of rural India in the last four years, it glosses over how sanitation workers and manual scavengers are losing their lives maintaining sewers and septic tanks in the name of clean India.

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually sanitation work such as cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling human excreta from dry latrines and sewers and involves the use of basic tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets. The practice of manual scavenging is inextricably linked to India’s caste system where those born into the supposed lower castes, such as Valmiki or Hela, were made exclusively responsible to perform this job.

Sewer cleaning comes under the definition of “hazardous cleaning” which is defined as manual cleaning of sewer or septic tank by an employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions. There is however no rehabilitation provision for sewer cleaners

Rehabilitation under the Act

The Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers to give them a photo identity card, one-time cash assistance, scholarship for his children, allotment of residential plot, financial assistance for house construction, training in livelihood skill and other such social assistance. Out of 60,440 identified manual scavengers, 40,383 have received one-time cash assistance under the Act, the provision of the other rehabilitative measure is still unclear and so is the amount provided as one-time assistance.

Relevant point to note here is that the distinction made between a manual scavenger and a sewer cleaner has been deliberately made by the legislators and hence even in the parliament they have claimed that there have been no deaths due to manual scavenging.

Related:

Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Public Hearing on Sewer Workers – Hearing the victims and their families

Manual Scavenging still on: How Swachh is GOI's conscience?

282 ‘sewer deaths’ in last 4 years reported

A question was put forth by BJP MP, Sushil Kumar Singh, on December 3 in the Lok Sabha regarding rehabilitation of Manual scavengers. He asked about deaths due to manual scavenging and details of identified manual scavengers and their rehabilitation.

DeathImage Courtesy: theprint.in

In response to a question related to manual scavenging, the government said that there are no reports regarding deaths of persons due to manual scavenging but admitted there have been deaths due to cleaning of sewers and septic tanks as recorded by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. The PUDR report titled “Chronic ‘Accidents’: Deaths of Sewer/Septic Tank Workers, Delhi, 2017-2019” as contended that official bodies have attempted to create a false distinction between the manual scavengers and sewer/septic tank cleaners so as to give priority should be given to manual scavengers. PUDR argues that such official narratives cause sanitation workers to be relegated to the background and questions as to the rights of sewer workers are left out of the debate.

As per data from the Commission, 282 sewer deaths have taken place since 2016 until November 6, 2019 in the country. Out of these, families of 156 deceased persons have received compensation under the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. That is just bit more than half of the deceased persons families receiving such compensation.

About Manual Scavenging and sewer cleaning

On October 2, 2014, the Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission with the aim to achieve universal sanitation coverage within five years as a “fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi” on his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2019. While the Government lauds the success of the Mission covering 99.2 per cent of rural India in the last four years, it glosses over how sanitation workers and manual scavengers are losing their lives maintaining sewers and septic tanks in the name of clean India.

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually sanitation work such as cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling human excreta from dry latrines and sewers and involves the use of basic tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets. The practice of manual scavenging is inextricably linked to India’s caste system where those born into the supposed lower castes, such as Valmiki or Hela, were made exclusively responsible to perform this job.

Sewer cleaning comes under the definition of “hazardous cleaning” which is defined as manual cleaning of sewer or septic tank by an employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions. There is however no rehabilitation provision for sewer cleaners

Rehabilitation under the Act

The Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers to give them a photo identity card, one-time cash assistance, scholarship for his children, allotment of residential plot, financial assistance for house construction, training in livelihood skill and other such social assistance. Out of 60,440 identified manual scavengers, 40,383 have received one-time cash assistance under the Act, the provision of the other rehabilitative measure is still unclear and so is the amount provided as one-time assistance.

Relevant point to note here is that the distinction made between a manual scavenger and a sewer cleaner has been deliberately made by the legislators and hence even in the parliament they have claimed that there have been no deaths due to manual scavenging.

Related:

Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Public Hearing on Sewer Workers – Hearing the victims and their families

Manual Scavenging still on: How Swachh is GOI's conscience?

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ILO bats for making the future of work inclusive of persons with disabilities

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has just released a report that highlights how challenges to participation in the workforce make persons with disabilities vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion.

07 Dec 2019

ILOImage Courtesy: industriall-union.org

The report titled Making the future of work inclusive of people with disabilities is a joint publication by the ILO Global Business and Disability Network and the ONCE Foundation. There are an estimated 1 billion people worldwide who live with some form of sensory, motor, mental and other types of disabilities.

In India, protection of rights of persons with disabilities fall under the purview of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. As per data from the 2011 census, 2.68 crore people are living with disability in India. This is approximately 2.21 percent of the population of the country.

Persons with disabilities are considered one of the groups meriting specific attention in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that provide the framework for inclusive global sustainable development efforts for the coming decade. Moreover, article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others.  

The ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work adopted in June 2019 states, the ILO itself must work towards, among other issues: “Ensuring equal opportunities and treatment in the world of work for persons with disabilities, as well as for other persons in vulnerable situations.”

The Future of Work report identifies the following five key objectives for inclusion of persons with disabilities in the future of work:

1. New forms of employment and employment relations integrate disability inclusion

2. Skills development and life-long learning made inclusive of persons with disabilities

3. Universal Design embedded in development of all new infrastructure, products and services

4. Assistive technologies, existing and newly developed, to be made affordable and available

5. Measures to include persons with disabilities in growing and developing areas of the economy

The report further says, “Data from eight regions across the world show that 36% of persons with disabilities of working age are in employment, compared to 60% for persons without disabilities. In most countries, persons with disabilities in employment are more likely to be in vulnerable employment, or to be paid less than persons without disabilities.”

The report goes on to list factors that create an environment that does not enable persons with disability to thrive. These include:

· Accessibility barriers in built environments, transport, products and services

· Non-inclusive education and vocational training leading to lower levels of education and training among persons with disabilities

· Inadequate support for youth with disabilities in transition from school to work

· Low level of capacity of public employment services to support persons with disabilities

The entire report may be read here:

 

ILO bats for making the future of work inclusive of persons with disabilities

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has just released a report that highlights how challenges to participation in the workforce make persons with disabilities vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion.

ILOImage Courtesy: industriall-union.org

The report titled Making the future of work inclusive of people with disabilities is a joint publication by the ILO Global Business and Disability Network and the ONCE Foundation. There are an estimated 1 billion people worldwide who live with some form of sensory, motor, mental and other types of disabilities.

In India, protection of rights of persons with disabilities fall under the purview of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. As per data from the 2011 census, 2.68 crore people are living with disability in India. This is approximately 2.21 percent of the population of the country.

Persons with disabilities are considered one of the groups meriting specific attention in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that provide the framework for inclusive global sustainable development efforts for the coming decade. Moreover, article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others.  

The ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work adopted in June 2019 states, the ILO itself must work towards, among other issues: “Ensuring equal opportunities and treatment in the world of work for persons with disabilities, as well as for other persons in vulnerable situations.”

The Future of Work report identifies the following five key objectives for inclusion of persons with disabilities in the future of work:

1. New forms of employment and employment relations integrate disability inclusion

2. Skills development and life-long learning made inclusive of persons with disabilities

3. Universal Design embedded in development of all new infrastructure, products and services

4. Assistive technologies, existing and newly developed, to be made affordable and available

5. Measures to include persons with disabilities in growing and developing areas of the economy

The report further says, “Data from eight regions across the world show that 36% of persons with disabilities of working age are in employment, compared to 60% for persons without disabilities. In most countries, persons with disabilities in employment are more likely to be in vulnerable employment, or to be paid less than persons without disabilities.”

The report goes on to list factors that create an environment that does not enable persons with disability to thrive. These include:

· Accessibility barriers in built environments, transport, products and services

· Non-inclusive education and vocational training leading to lower levels of education and training among persons with disabilities

· Inadequate support for youth with disabilities in transition from school to work

· Low level of capacity of public employment services to support persons with disabilities

The entire report may be read here:

 

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Poverty forces Kerala children to eat mud to survive

An alcoholic husband has pushed Sridevi and her six kids to this situation

04 Dec 2019

poverty

Talking about dire poverty in the country and living in dire poverty are two completely different things. An example of this came to light when Kerala woke up to reports of a woman whose children were found to be eating mud out of sheer hunger.

Sridevi, who lived with her six kids in a makeshift shanty of 50 sq. ft on railway land, around 3 km from the State Secretariat at Kaithamukku in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, made a distress call to the toll-free helpline of Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) on December 1 after she couldn’t bear the plight of her children anymore.

Reports by The Times of India say that the incident came to light when the headmistress of the government school where the eldest child is enrolled, asked him about his living conditions.

The headmistress states that the boy, aged seven, told her that their alcoholic father would physically abuse all of them, beat them and smash their heads against the wall. He spared the two youngest children who are still being breastfed. He also allegedly would throw mud into their food or leave them and their mother starving, the neighbours told TOI. However, Sridevi hasn’t spoken a word about this.

The school then promptly alerted Childline that works for the welfare of children across the country.

The KSCCW general secretary S P Deepak who visited the family found their situation shocking. He said, “The kids only had water for the past two days. One boy was seen eating mud out of hunger.”

The KSCCW then asked Sridevi if she was willing to hand over the children to them for better care and she agreed. Now, the four kids – two boys aged seven years and five years and two girls aged four and two, will be under the care of the government. The other two kids who are still being breastfed, will be provided for by the government as well.

Thiruvananthapuram Mayor K Sreekumar has offered Sridevi a temporary cleaning job at the Corporation office and a house being constructed under the Corporation’s housing scheme Life Mission, will also be provided to her and her kids. She also didn’t have a ration card, which was just provided to her by the state in a haste. In the interim, she has been shifted to the MahilaMandiram at Poojappura with her kids. Sridevi will now earn a daily wage of Rs. 650, Manorama Online reported.

Health Minister KK Shailaja told the media that all the four kids, whose medical examination will be conducted at the SAT Hospital soon, will be under the protection of the government. Many voluntary organizations have also come out in support of the family.
 

Poverty in Kerala

According to the World Bank Report of 2017, Kerala has experienced a steady decline in poverty since 1994. According to the report, after 2005, Kerala grew and reduced poverty faster than many states, but while it is home to a smaller share of the poor in the country, there are pockets within the state that have recorded a higher incidence of poverty.

According to the State Planning Board, in Kerala, factors such as land reforms, public distribution systems schemes, Kudumbashree and Planning schemes have effectively brought down poverty ratios. In 2011-12, Kerala’s poverty stood at 7.1%, second only to Goa at 5.1%.

Yet, Kerala, in the recent years has always been battered by floods and other natural calamities that has resulted in loss of lives and livelihoods. Tracking the current rate of poverty in India is difficult because there are no statistics available after 2012.

However, going by the numbers we have, it looks like Sridevi was one of the unfortunate ones bereft of the social benefits provided by the state.


Domestic Violence and violence against children in Kerala

According to a report by the National Commission of Women (NCW) 2005, almost 80% of the victims of domestic violence were in the age group of 20-40 years and only 68% of women in the 14 districts sampled had secondary / higher secondary education.

67.1% respondents did not have life savings and in 57.9% households, the family affairs were controlled by the husband. 75.4% of the husbands in the households were alcoholics and almost half, 48.7% respondents stated the ‘alcoholic nature’ of the husband as the first cause of domestic violence.

Literate Kerala has also seen an upsurge in crimes against children with the number going up from 549 in 2008 to 4,008 in 2018. (The New Indian Express). Most of these crimes have gone unreported because they have been committed by people known to the children. Though the Kerala government also put up neighbourhood vigilance schemes in 2013, they do not seem to have worked.

It is ironical that Kerala, a state that takes pride in its progress, cannot protect its children. This battle that Sridevi is fighting is not just against poverty. It is a multi-layered issue involving destitution, social benefits, violence and the security of children. She was rescued from her situation because she finally wrestled her way out of it for her children by contacting the government. But there are many others who do not have the knowledge or the means to get them out of such situations. Then, will the government of Kerala, for that matter the government of India take stock of the matter and bring the neglected into their fold before matters get worse?


Related:

Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change
Criminal Callousness of Modi Government in Hiding Data
38% Of Indian Children Under 4–Poor And Rich Alike–Are Stunted: Study

 

Poverty forces Kerala children to eat mud to survive

An alcoholic husband has pushed Sridevi and her six kids to this situation

poverty

Talking about dire poverty in the country and living in dire poverty are two completely different things. An example of this came to light when Kerala woke up to reports of a woman whose children were found to be eating mud out of sheer hunger.

Sridevi, who lived with her six kids in a makeshift shanty of 50 sq. ft on railway land, around 3 km from the State Secretariat at Kaithamukku in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, made a distress call to the toll-free helpline of Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) on December 1 after she couldn’t bear the plight of her children anymore.

Reports by The Times of India say that the incident came to light when the headmistress of the government school where the eldest child is enrolled, asked him about his living conditions.

The headmistress states that the boy, aged seven, told her that their alcoholic father would physically abuse all of them, beat them and smash their heads against the wall. He spared the two youngest children who are still being breastfed. He also allegedly would throw mud into their food or leave them and their mother starving, the neighbours told TOI. However, Sridevi hasn’t spoken a word about this.

The school then promptly alerted Childline that works for the welfare of children across the country.

The KSCCW general secretary S P Deepak who visited the family found their situation shocking. He said, “The kids only had water for the past two days. One boy was seen eating mud out of hunger.”

The KSCCW then asked Sridevi if she was willing to hand over the children to them for better care and she agreed. Now, the four kids – two boys aged seven years and five years and two girls aged four and two, will be under the care of the government. The other two kids who are still being breastfed, will be provided for by the government as well.

Thiruvananthapuram Mayor K Sreekumar has offered Sridevi a temporary cleaning job at the Corporation office and a house being constructed under the Corporation’s housing scheme Life Mission, will also be provided to her and her kids. She also didn’t have a ration card, which was just provided to her by the state in a haste. In the interim, she has been shifted to the MahilaMandiram at Poojappura with her kids. Sridevi will now earn a daily wage of Rs. 650, Manorama Online reported.

Health Minister KK Shailaja told the media that all the four kids, whose medical examination will be conducted at the SAT Hospital soon, will be under the protection of the government. Many voluntary organizations have also come out in support of the family.
 

Poverty in Kerala

According to the World Bank Report of 2017, Kerala has experienced a steady decline in poverty since 1994. According to the report, after 2005, Kerala grew and reduced poverty faster than many states, but while it is home to a smaller share of the poor in the country, there are pockets within the state that have recorded a higher incidence of poverty.

According to the State Planning Board, in Kerala, factors such as land reforms, public distribution systems schemes, Kudumbashree and Planning schemes have effectively brought down poverty ratios. In 2011-12, Kerala’s poverty stood at 7.1%, second only to Goa at 5.1%.

Yet, Kerala, in the recent years has always been battered by floods and other natural calamities that has resulted in loss of lives and livelihoods. Tracking the current rate of poverty in India is difficult because there are no statistics available after 2012.

However, going by the numbers we have, it looks like Sridevi was one of the unfortunate ones bereft of the social benefits provided by the state.


Domestic Violence and violence against children in Kerala

According to a report by the National Commission of Women (NCW) 2005, almost 80% of the victims of domestic violence were in the age group of 20-40 years and only 68% of women in the 14 districts sampled had secondary / higher secondary education.

67.1% respondents did not have life savings and in 57.9% households, the family affairs were controlled by the husband. 75.4% of the husbands in the households were alcoholics and almost half, 48.7% respondents stated the ‘alcoholic nature’ of the husband as the first cause of domestic violence.

Literate Kerala has also seen an upsurge in crimes against children with the number going up from 549 in 2008 to 4,008 in 2018. (The New Indian Express). Most of these crimes have gone unreported because they have been committed by people known to the children. Though the Kerala government also put up neighbourhood vigilance schemes in 2013, they do not seem to have worked.

It is ironical that Kerala, a state that takes pride in its progress, cannot protect its children. This battle that Sridevi is fighting is not just against poverty. It is a multi-layered issue involving destitution, social benefits, violence and the security of children. She was rescued from her situation because she finally wrestled her way out of it for her children by contacting the government. But there are many others who do not have the knowledge or the means to get them out of such situations. Then, will the government of Kerala, for that matter the government of India take stock of the matter and bring the neglected into their fold before matters get worse?


Related:

Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change
Criminal Callousness of Modi Government in Hiding Data
38% Of Indian Children Under 4–Poor And Rich Alike–Are Stunted: Study

 

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Human rights activists implore Shiv Sena to take up the cause of Mahul residents

The residents of Mahul have been breathing carcinogenic air and have been riddled with multiple health problems

03 Dec 2019

mahul

The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) who is spearheading the fight for clean air, water and safe rehabilitation of victims of Mahul, has sought the intervention of the newly formed Maharashtra government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray to help the residents relocate from the ‘gas chamber’ of Mahul to a safer space.

The residents of Mahul have been fighting a losing battle for their lives ever since they were removed from their houses and shifted to their current residence surrounded by refineries and chemical industries. They were only to be ‘temporary’ inhabitants, but it has been more than 7 years that they have been living in the toxic hell.

Most of the residents, right from children to the elders, have been facing health complications ever since they have moved to this extremely toxic area. The unclean water and polluted air has led to severe skin complications, respiratory problems, stomach and throat infections, hair loss and even cancer.

There have been multiple studies on the air in Mahul and a survey of the diseases that affect the victims there. Studies by IIT Bombay and KEM hospital have shown that the air is polluted by carcinogenic chemicals. The victims are also not did not get any compensation by the BJP government for their state-sponsored illnesses.

It is shameful to even talk about the fact that even when the Supreme Court asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to compensate these victims and pay them money for relocation, the BMC is passing the buck to the refineries who it says is the real culprit for their pitiable circumstance, and it is the refineries who must pay for their rehabilitation.

Today, at the appeal of NAPM, the GharBachaoGharBanaoAndolan and other human rights groups, help is pouring in from all quarters and doctors have voluntarily signed up to help the residents. A team of general physicians, gynecologists, dermatologists, palliative care experts and pediatricians have come forward to help the people of Mahul who had been left to rot to death only because the then BJP government did not think them as humans for them being from an economically backward background.

Mahul1

 

mahul2

The medical camps have been a boon to the people of Mahul who cannot afford expensive treatment at hospitals. But even, then they are just like a bandaid on a gaping wound. What the residents of Mahul need is permanent rehabilitation. NAPM and GBGBA think that the Shiv Sena government will do right by these residents after having taken up the causes of the Aarey Forest.

On the intervention of YUVA Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, 300 new houses were reserved for Mahul residents by MHADA but MCGM held the allotment of these houses by citing technical glitches in the announcement. Now that the new government took a bold decision to stop cutting of Aarey forest which was campaigned around as an issue of pollution, the real victims of pollution in Mahul are waiting for their turn to get justice, writes NAPM.

We stand with the people of Mahul in their fight for their fundamental right to safe and habitable living and a clean environment. Though we are hopeful of positive actions by the new Maharashtra government, change may take some time. Till then, we implore you, the citizens of India, to contribute to the wellness of Mahul residents by donating for medicines that will help alleviate their pain.

Please donate to the cause here.

Related:

Mahul needs you
M’traGovt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavisgovt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

 

Human rights activists implore Shiv Sena to take up the cause of Mahul residents

The residents of Mahul have been breathing carcinogenic air and have been riddled with multiple health problems

mahul

The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) who is spearheading the fight for clean air, water and safe rehabilitation of victims of Mahul, has sought the intervention of the newly formed Maharashtra government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray to help the residents relocate from the ‘gas chamber’ of Mahul to a safer space.

The residents of Mahul have been fighting a losing battle for their lives ever since they were removed from their houses and shifted to their current residence surrounded by refineries and chemical industries. They were only to be ‘temporary’ inhabitants, but it has been more than 7 years that they have been living in the toxic hell.

Most of the residents, right from children to the elders, have been facing health complications ever since they have moved to this extremely toxic area. The unclean water and polluted air has led to severe skin complications, respiratory problems, stomach and throat infections, hair loss and even cancer.

There have been multiple studies on the air in Mahul and a survey of the diseases that affect the victims there. Studies by IIT Bombay and KEM hospital have shown that the air is polluted by carcinogenic chemicals. The victims are also not did not get any compensation by the BJP government for their state-sponsored illnesses.

It is shameful to even talk about the fact that even when the Supreme Court asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to compensate these victims and pay them money for relocation, the BMC is passing the buck to the refineries who it says is the real culprit for their pitiable circumstance, and it is the refineries who must pay for their rehabilitation.

Today, at the appeal of NAPM, the GharBachaoGharBanaoAndolan and other human rights groups, help is pouring in from all quarters and doctors have voluntarily signed up to help the residents. A team of general physicians, gynecologists, dermatologists, palliative care experts and pediatricians have come forward to help the people of Mahul who had been left to rot to death only because the then BJP government did not think them as humans for them being from an economically backward background.

Mahul1

 

mahul2

The medical camps have been a boon to the people of Mahul who cannot afford expensive treatment at hospitals. But even, then they are just like a bandaid on a gaping wound. What the residents of Mahul need is permanent rehabilitation. NAPM and GBGBA think that the Shiv Sena government will do right by these residents after having taken up the causes of the Aarey Forest.

On the intervention of YUVA Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, 300 new houses were reserved for Mahul residents by MHADA but MCGM held the allotment of these houses by citing technical glitches in the announcement. Now that the new government took a bold decision to stop cutting of Aarey forest which was campaigned around as an issue of pollution, the real victims of pollution in Mahul are waiting for their turn to get justice, writes NAPM.

We stand with the people of Mahul in their fight for their fundamental right to safe and habitable living and a clean environment. Though we are hopeful of positive actions by the new Maharashtra government, change may take some time. Till then, we implore you, the citizens of India, to contribute to the wellness of Mahul residents by donating for medicines that will help alleviate their pain.

Please donate to the cause here.

Related:

Mahul needs you
M’traGovt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavisgovt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

 

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28.5 per cent food samples not conforming to safety standards: FSSAI

On November 26, the primary body governing food safety regulations in India - the FSSAI - released their 2018-19 report concerning state-wise enforcement of food safety standards. The data contains information on the number of samples analysed in every state/union territory, non-conforming samples, cases launched, convictions ruled, and penalties granted.

30 Nov 2019

FSSAI

Food safety requirements

To acquire and maintain food licensing, the FSSAI requires that every food business operator (FBO) to plan and implement a Food Safety Management System (FSMS), in compliance with the 2011 Licensing & Registration of Food Businesses Regulations, and has prepared separate guidance documents for different sectors to assist compliance. The Regulatory Compliance Division works with State/UT Food Safety Commissioners to ensure these requirements are followed.

Designated Officers and Food Safety Officers are required to draw samples of licensed products from time-to-time to verify that they meet safety standards. Failing to meet the standards would imply that the FSMS has not been properly implemented by the business.

The data collected from sample testing and analysis is collated in an annual report on food safety enforcement released by the body.
 

The data from 2018-19

Out of the total 1,06,459 samples that were analysed by the Authority this year, 30,415 samples (28.5 per cent) were found to be non-conforming to the safety standards. 3,900 samples (3.7 per cent) were found to be unsafe, 16,870 (15.8 per cent) were found to be sub-standard, and 9645 (9 per cent) had labelling defects.

In their press release, while stating that there should be zero tolerance to unsafe food, the FSSAI said that reducing sub-standard products and labelling defects will more capacity building for food businesses, food standards as well as labelling requirements.

The Authority indicated that many of the poorly performing states have not been able to put in place full-time officers for food safety and do not have proper food testing laboratories, despite the food safety law coming into force over a decade ago.

Finding non-adherence to the safety requirements entails a revocation of the FBO’s food license. Depending on the gravity of the non-conformity, the FSSAI also pursues civil or criminal cases against them.

There has been a 36% increase in civil cases launched and a 67% increase in the number of cases where penalties were imposed. As far as criminal cases are concerned, there has been 86% increase in criminal cases launched – 701 convictions.
 

The importance of enforcement

FSSAI notes that food safety issues extend beyond food adulteration.

In 2015, the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) of the World Health Organization identified 31 foodborne hazards. It estimated that these 31 hazards would have likely resulted in 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths in 2010.

The group found that the global burden of food borne by two of these diseases (FBD) is comparable to those of the major infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

The most frequent causes of foodborne illness were diarrheal disease agents, particularly norovirus and Campylobacter spp. Diarrheal disease agents, especially non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica, were also responsible for the majority of deaths due to FBD. Other major causes of FBD deaths were Salmonella Typhi, Taenia solium and hepatitis A virus.
 

Hits and misses

CNBC reported that FSSAI is in the process of stepping up scrutiny on food-related advertisements across television, digital and print mediums by forming a committee of internal and external experts, consisting of members from the advertising and food and regulatory space. The objective of the screening process will be to check the credibility of claims by companies, said the sources, it noted.

The New Indian Times reported that With Aflatoxin-M1and antibiotic residues emerging as a major contaminant in milk, the FSSAI has proposed various preventive and corrective actions, including extensive capacity building at primary production levels in the milk sector after finding cancer-causing substance Aflatoxin M1 in 20 milk samples.

In December 2017, Quartz India reported on an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which raised several concerns over clearances and testing of food, the lack of equipment, and a shortage of staff across various testing labs affiliated with the FSSAI.

It also questioned the lack of guidelines and procedures to regulate the use of certain food items. “The audit revealed systemic inefficiencies, including delays and deficiencies in the framing of various regulations and standards,” the CAG report noted.

In response to the controversy, FSSAI acknowledged its shortcomings, but said, “CAG report should, however, be seen in the context of the huge and complex task at hand and the fact that FSSAI is a new and evolving organisation and it faces severe constraints of manpower and resources.

In July 2018, the Centre for Science Environment (India’s leading research organisation) released a study in which they found that more than 20 packaged food products which have been illegally genetically modified (GM) are being sold openly in the market to unsuspecting consumers.


Related:

Illegal GM foods allowed to flood Indian markets while authorities keep mum
Only 8 states use the Institutional Support for Tribal Produce scheme
Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!

28.5 per cent food samples not conforming to safety standards: FSSAI

On November 26, the primary body governing food safety regulations in India - the FSSAI - released their 2018-19 report concerning state-wise enforcement of food safety standards. The data contains information on the number of samples analysed in every state/union territory, non-conforming samples, cases launched, convictions ruled, and penalties granted.

FSSAI

Food safety requirements

To acquire and maintain food licensing, the FSSAI requires that every food business operator (FBO) to plan and implement a Food Safety Management System (FSMS), in compliance with the 2011 Licensing & Registration of Food Businesses Regulations, and has prepared separate guidance documents for different sectors to assist compliance. The Regulatory Compliance Division works with State/UT Food Safety Commissioners to ensure these requirements are followed.

Designated Officers and Food Safety Officers are required to draw samples of licensed products from time-to-time to verify that they meet safety standards. Failing to meet the standards would imply that the FSMS has not been properly implemented by the business.

The data collected from sample testing and analysis is collated in an annual report on food safety enforcement released by the body.
 

The data from 2018-19

Out of the total 1,06,459 samples that were analysed by the Authority this year, 30,415 samples (28.5 per cent) were found to be non-conforming to the safety standards. 3,900 samples (3.7 per cent) were found to be unsafe, 16,870 (15.8 per cent) were found to be sub-standard, and 9645 (9 per cent) had labelling defects.

In their press release, while stating that there should be zero tolerance to unsafe food, the FSSAI said that reducing sub-standard products and labelling defects will more capacity building for food businesses, food standards as well as labelling requirements.

The Authority indicated that many of the poorly performing states have not been able to put in place full-time officers for food safety and do not have proper food testing laboratories, despite the food safety law coming into force over a decade ago.

Finding non-adherence to the safety requirements entails a revocation of the FBO’s food license. Depending on the gravity of the non-conformity, the FSSAI also pursues civil or criminal cases against them.

There has been a 36% increase in civil cases launched and a 67% increase in the number of cases where penalties were imposed. As far as criminal cases are concerned, there has been 86% increase in criminal cases launched – 701 convictions.
 

The importance of enforcement

FSSAI notes that food safety issues extend beyond food adulteration.

In 2015, the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) of the World Health Organization identified 31 foodborne hazards. It estimated that these 31 hazards would have likely resulted in 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths in 2010.

The group found that the global burden of food borne by two of these diseases (FBD) is comparable to those of the major infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

The most frequent causes of foodborne illness were diarrheal disease agents, particularly norovirus and Campylobacter spp. Diarrheal disease agents, especially non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica, were also responsible for the majority of deaths due to FBD. Other major causes of FBD deaths were Salmonella Typhi, Taenia solium and hepatitis A virus.
 

Hits and misses

CNBC reported that FSSAI is in the process of stepping up scrutiny on food-related advertisements across television, digital and print mediums by forming a committee of internal and external experts, consisting of members from the advertising and food and regulatory space. The objective of the screening process will be to check the credibility of claims by companies, said the sources, it noted.

The New Indian Times reported that With Aflatoxin-M1and antibiotic residues emerging as a major contaminant in milk, the FSSAI has proposed various preventive and corrective actions, including extensive capacity building at primary production levels in the milk sector after finding cancer-causing substance Aflatoxin M1 in 20 milk samples.

In December 2017, Quartz India reported on an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which raised several concerns over clearances and testing of food, the lack of equipment, and a shortage of staff across various testing labs affiliated with the FSSAI.

It also questioned the lack of guidelines and procedures to regulate the use of certain food items. “The audit revealed systemic inefficiencies, including delays and deficiencies in the framing of various regulations and standards,” the CAG report noted.

In response to the controversy, FSSAI acknowledged its shortcomings, but said, “CAG report should, however, be seen in the context of the huge and complex task at hand and the fact that FSSAI is a new and evolving organisation and it faces severe constraints of manpower and resources.

In July 2018, the Centre for Science Environment (India’s leading research organisation) released a study in which they found that more than 20 packaged food products which have been illegally genetically modified (GM) are being sold openly in the market to unsuspecting consumers.


Related:

Illegal GM foods allowed to flood Indian markets while authorities keep mum
Only 8 states use the Institutional Support for Tribal Produce scheme
Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!

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Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!

A primary school was allegedly caught giving adulterated milk to its students as part of their mid-day meal in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh. A video demonstrating the cook adding one litre of milk to a bucket of water went viral on social media this Tuesday, on November 26.

29 Nov 2019
Image
Image Courtesy: NDTV


The incident where the video was shot took place at Salai Banwa Primary School in the Salaibanwa area of Kota village in Sonbhadra. According to the mid-day meal (MDM) menu prescribed by the Uttar Pradesh government, the school children are supposed to be served tehri (rice) with milk.

The school’s head Shailesh Kanaujia washed his hands of the incident. In a statement, he said, “There are 171 children enrolled in the school,” he said. “Eighty-one children were present on that day. I have the responsibility to look after two schools. Milk had to be arranged for both schools and I could not monitor the quantity of milk that reached government primary school in Salai Banwa. The cook was provided the milk, which was distributed among the children and they drank it.”

The area’s Block Education Officer Mukesh Rai said that he received information from locals that water was added to the milk and served to the children. He said a probe had been ordered into the incident and strict action will be taken so that such instances are never repeated in future.

The Basic Shiksha Adhikari Gorakhnath Patel reportedly said, “Such laxity will not be tolerated. A probe has been ordered into the matter. A team of Education Department officials will conduct a probe and submit a report within two days. Strict action will be taken against whosoever is found guilty in the probe.”

India Today reported that since the video showing milk adulteration went viral, an FIR has been lodged against the Shiksha Mitra Jitendra while a teacher of the school has been suspended.

This incident comes months after a government primary school in UP's Mirzapur was found serving salt-roti and salt-rice to children in the name of mid-day meals. The locals had alleged that they were told milk would be distributed to the school, but it was never served to the children.

In September 2019, at least 28 workers from three districts (Rae Bareli, Kannauj and Pratapgarh) in Uttar Pradesh were booked for selling MDM food for cash. Raids led to the recovery of large quantities of food grain meant for the scheme in the warehouse of a private trader in Rae Bareli. About 155 bags of children's meals (about 9,300 kilos) were found at an animal fodder godown in the Salon block of Rae Bareli. Initial investigation revealed that the nutritional meals were to be distributed in anganwadis of Pratapgarh's Rampur Khaas and other areas. But instead, it was kept in godowns and illegally sold to people.

The HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told the Lok Sabha last week that the most number of complaints about MDM was reported from Uttar Pradesh at 14 of 52. In the funds released by the Centre for MDM Scheme, Uttar Pradesh received the highest amount, at about Rs. 11.2 billion.

 

Related:

All is not well for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in India
Assam Midday Meal workers protest outside education minister’s residence
Akshaya Patra imposing vegetarian food mono culture on children

 

Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!

A primary school was allegedly caught giving adulterated milk to its students as part of their mid-day meal in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh. A video demonstrating the cook adding one litre of milk to a bucket of water went viral on social media this Tuesday, on November 26.

Image
Image Courtesy: NDTV


The incident where the video was shot took place at Salai Banwa Primary School in the Salaibanwa area of Kota village in Sonbhadra. According to the mid-day meal (MDM) menu prescribed by the Uttar Pradesh government, the school children are supposed to be served tehri (rice) with milk.

The school’s head Shailesh Kanaujia washed his hands of the incident. In a statement, he said, “There are 171 children enrolled in the school,” he said. “Eighty-one children were present on that day. I have the responsibility to look after two schools. Milk had to be arranged for both schools and I could not monitor the quantity of milk that reached government primary school in Salai Banwa. The cook was provided the milk, which was distributed among the children and they drank it.”

The area’s Block Education Officer Mukesh Rai said that he received information from locals that water was added to the milk and served to the children. He said a probe had been ordered into the incident and strict action will be taken so that such instances are never repeated in future.

The Basic Shiksha Adhikari Gorakhnath Patel reportedly said, “Such laxity will not be tolerated. A probe has been ordered into the matter. A team of Education Department officials will conduct a probe and submit a report within two days. Strict action will be taken against whosoever is found guilty in the probe.”

India Today reported that since the video showing milk adulteration went viral, an FIR has been lodged against the Shiksha Mitra Jitendra while a teacher of the school has been suspended.

This incident comes months after a government primary school in UP's Mirzapur was found serving salt-roti and salt-rice to children in the name of mid-day meals. The locals had alleged that they were told milk would be distributed to the school, but it was never served to the children.

In September 2019, at least 28 workers from three districts (Rae Bareli, Kannauj and Pratapgarh) in Uttar Pradesh were booked for selling MDM food for cash. Raids led to the recovery of large quantities of food grain meant for the scheme in the warehouse of a private trader in Rae Bareli. About 155 bags of children's meals (about 9,300 kilos) were found at an animal fodder godown in the Salon block of Rae Bareli. Initial investigation revealed that the nutritional meals were to be distributed in anganwadis of Pratapgarh's Rampur Khaas and other areas. But instead, it was kept in godowns and illegally sold to people.

The HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told the Lok Sabha last week that the most number of complaints about MDM was reported from Uttar Pradesh at 14 of 52. In the funds released by the Centre for MDM Scheme, Uttar Pradesh received the highest amount, at about Rs. 11.2 billion.

 

Related:

All is not well for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in India
Assam Midday Meal workers protest outside education minister’s residence
Akshaya Patra imposing vegetarian food mono culture on children

 

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Maternal mortality down to 122 per 1 lakh, still highest in the world

In response to an unstarred question asked in the Lok Sabha as to incidence of maternal death occurring in the country, Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare Mr. Ashwini Kumar Choubey said that the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), i.e., death of mothers at the time of giving birth, has come down to 122 deaths per 1,00,000 live births.

29 Nov 2019

Maternal mortality

Choubey notes, that maternal deaths, being a rare event, require large sample size to provide robust estimates. Registrar General of India uses the Sample Registration System (SRS) to provide estimates on maternal mortality which does not generate data on yearly basis.

In order to enhance the SRS sample size, therefore, the results are derived by pooling the three years data, he says.

As per the report of Sample Registration System (SRS) released by Registrar General of India (RGI), Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of India has shown a gradual decrease. For every 100,000 live births, there were:
 

  • 167 maternal deaths in SRS 2011-13,
  • 130 maternal deaths in SRS 2014-16,
  • 122 maternal deaths in SRS 2015-17.

As per the state-wise data provided in the answer, Uttar Pradesh had the most number of maternal deaths for all three SRS periods. For the 2015-17 period, Uttar Pradesh saw 12,340 maternal deaths, 2.5 times more than Bihar which is next in line.

A 2014 study had noted that India contributes one-fifth of the global burden of absolute maternal deaths, but the nation experienced an estimated 4.7% annual decline in maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and 3.5% annual increase in skilled birth attendance since 1990. The total number of maternal deaths reported in the last SRS report was 37,890.

Etiology of maternal mortality

The last nation-wide survey covering causative factors that result in maternal deaths were covered by the RGI.

As per the RGI-SRS report titled “Maternal Mortality in India: 2001-2003 Trends, Causes and Risk Factors”, major causes of maternal deaths in the country are haemorrhage (38%), sepsis (11%), hypertensive disorders (5%), obstructed labour (5%), abortion (8%) and other conditions (34%) including anaemia.

WHO categorizes maternal deaths into direct, indirect and unknown/undetermined.

The whole picture

Chaubey in his response listed out steps being taken under the National Health Mission to further curb the incidence of maternal mortality in the country: Janani Suraksha Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, Midwifery programme, etc.

Although these state efforts as well as the resultant decrease in maternal mortalities are worth noting, only looking at these statistics would obscure our view of India’s overall reproductive health conditions.

Maternal nutrition is a major concern in the country. A third of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished, and inevitably give birth to an undernourished babies, thereby perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of undernutrition. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2019 (SOWC) report 38% of all Indian children below four years of age are stunted. 

Another vital issue is infant mortality. A 2018 report by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME) observed that 802,000 infants died in the country in 2017. The deaths were attributed to the lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition and basic health services, despite the government’s programmes on sanitation, health and nutrition.


Related:

38% Of Indian Children Under 4–Poor And Rich Alike–Are Stunted: Study
Haryana Portal Helps Track High-Risk Pregnancies For Improved Care
Pregnant and Helpless in a Detention Camp
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act Failing Women Who Need It The Most

Maternal mortality down to 122 per 1 lakh, still highest in the world

In response to an unstarred question asked in the Lok Sabha as to incidence of maternal death occurring in the country, Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare Mr. Ashwini Kumar Choubey said that the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), i.e., death of mothers at the time of giving birth, has come down to 122 deaths per 1,00,000 live births.

Maternal mortality

Choubey notes, that maternal deaths, being a rare event, require large sample size to provide robust estimates. Registrar General of India uses the Sample Registration System (SRS) to provide estimates on maternal mortality which does not generate data on yearly basis.

In order to enhance the SRS sample size, therefore, the results are derived by pooling the three years data, he says.

As per the report of Sample Registration System (SRS) released by Registrar General of India (RGI), Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of India has shown a gradual decrease. For every 100,000 live births, there were:
 

  • 167 maternal deaths in SRS 2011-13,
  • 130 maternal deaths in SRS 2014-16,
  • 122 maternal deaths in SRS 2015-17.

As per the state-wise data provided in the answer, Uttar Pradesh had the most number of maternal deaths for all three SRS periods. For the 2015-17 period, Uttar Pradesh saw 12,340 maternal deaths, 2.5 times more than Bihar which is next in line.

A 2014 study had noted that India contributes one-fifth of the global burden of absolute maternal deaths, but the nation experienced an estimated 4.7% annual decline in maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and 3.5% annual increase in skilled birth attendance since 1990. The total number of maternal deaths reported in the last SRS report was 37,890.

Etiology of maternal mortality

The last nation-wide survey covering causative factors that result in maternal deaths were covered by the RGI.

As per the RGI-SRS report titled “Maternal Mortality in India: 2001-2003 Trends, Causes and Risk Factors”, major causes of maternal deaths in the country are haemorrhage (38%), sepsis (11%), hypertensive disorders (5%), obstructed labour (5%), abortion (8%) and other conditions (34%) including anaemia.

WHO categorizes maternal deaths into direct, indirect and unknown/undetermined.

The whole picture

Chaubey in his response listed out steps being taken under the National Health Mission to further curb the incidence of maternal mortality in the country: Janani Suraksha Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, Midwifery programme, etc.

Although these state efforts as well as the resultant decrease in maternal mortalities are worth noting, only looking at these statistics would obscure our view of India’s overall reproductive health conditions.

Maternal nutrition is a major concern in the country. A third of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished, and inevitably give birth to an undernourished babies, thereby perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of undernutrition. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2019 (SOWC) report 38% of all Indian children below four years of age are stunted. 

Another vital issue is infant mortality. A 2018 report by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME) observed that 802,000 infants died in the country in 2017. The deaths were attributed to the lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition and basic health services, despite the government’s programmes on sanitation, health and nutrition.


Related:

38% Of Indian Children Under 4–Poor And Rich Alike–Are Stunted: Study
Haryana Portal Helps Track High-Risk Pregnancies For Improved Care
Pregnant and Helpless in a Detention Camp
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act Failing Women Who Need It The Most

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Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change

29 Nov 2019

Rain
Suburban rains, Chennai
 

Text of the note prepared by Compassion UK, “Child Poverty: the Facts and the Future”, which is an in-depth guide to child poverty and how can one tackle the challenges:

Child. Poverty. Two words that should never be put together. Yet tragically this is the reality for an estimated 385 million children, accounting for more than half of the world’s extreme poor.

It can feel like an insurmountable problem – but we are making progress and there is plenty of cause for hope and further action. Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved. That’s 1 billion fewer people living in poverty today.

Yet, while the numbers of people trapped in extreme poverty are declining, the rate of release is slowing, so that in many parts of the world we are not currently on track to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, the first Sustainable Development Goal. With nearly 600 million people still deeply entrenched in poverty – over half of them children – we still have a long way to go.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific issues and what we can do to continue to effect change and bring an end to child poverty in our world.

Why focus on child poverty, not just poverty as a whole?

It’s down to a tragic yet undeniable formula: children in poverty grow into adults in poverty – and the cycle of poverty is then perpetuated.

But release a child from poverty – and you free a future adult (and potentially an entire family) from poverty.

In a world in which one in three children are identified as multi-dimensionally poor (compared with one in six adults), consider the impact that each of the following indicators has on a child …

Child poverty issue 1: Food and nutrition

Hunger and malnutrition are not the same thing.

Too many children in our world today are starving. But starvation is not the only food-related enemy. A child can have a full stomach, yet still suffer from a dangerous deprivation of the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive.

Malnutrition is responsible for half of all deaths in children under 5 years of age, claiming the lives of over 3 million children every year and those who do survive are affected for life … unless intervention comes in time.

  • Malnutrition kicks off a chain reaction.
  • Poor nutrition drastically weakens a child’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to sickness.
  • Chronic and acute sickness hamper cognitive function (the brain’s ability to learn and develop).
  • Poor learning & attendance at school affects a child’s education.
  • Low levels of education affect a child’s subsequent earning power in adulthood.
  • A child who began life in poverty may grow into an adult trapped in poverty with a family of their own … trapped in poverty (back to beginning of cycle).

Stunting

Children who suffer from malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of their life are also highly susceptible to stunting, a condition in which growth and development are impaired. The visible, physical effect is that a child’s height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median, and their strength and mobility is affected. The unseen internal repercussions of stunting are vast and steal a child’s future.

Cause for hope

Nutrition interventions can help minimise the effects of stunting or even stop it in its tracks, restoring potential to a child’s future.

When we provide children with the nutrition and healthcare they need in their first two years of life, we are attacking poverty in its infancy, rather than allowing it to attack infants themselves.

Lance is one child who has suffered greatly due to malnourishment. Thankfully, he’s been given back his future through nutritional and health interventions.

Poverty has stunted Lance’s growth, and at 8 years old he looks like a 4-year-old. He suffered from acute malnourishment and for years he was too weak to lift himself up and walk. Child sponsorship has enabled Lance to receive proper nourishment and healthcare. While still small for his age, Lance is now healthy and strong enough to play with other children.

Child poverty issue 2: Healthcare

The need for proper nutrition, especially in infancy and childhood, is closely linked to the need for access to affordable healthcare. While we strive to eradicate poverty as swiftly as possible, each year about 100 million people are forced into poverty as a result of health-related expenses.

Healthcare workers

  • Issue: Aside from affordability, the availability of healthcare workers is also a problem. Sub-Saharan Africa has a health worker deficit of 1.8 million– a figure which, without immediate and concerted action, will rise to 4.3 million over the next 20 years as the population rises.
  • Way forward:  The maths is clear on this one. The additional cost of providing sub-Saharan Africa with another 1 million community health workers would be an estimated US$3.1 billion per year. The return on that investment, in addition to the lives saved and suffering reduced, would be an estimated US$19.4 billion per yearfrom enhanced productivity.

Prenatal care for babies

  • Issue: A lack of healthcare or nutrition impacts a child’s life from birth (and even beforehand).
  • Way forward: Research estimates that 40% of neonatal deaths could be avertedwith key interventions around the time of birth. These include care by a skilled birth attendant, emergency obstetric care, immediate newborn care and newborn resuscitation. Another 30% could be saved through ‘kangaroo mother’ care with skin-to-skin contact starting from birth and other basic methods of prevention, management and treatment of neonatal issues

Prenatal care for mothers

  • Issue: Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causesrelated to pregnancy and childhood, with 99% of maternal deaths occurring in developing countries
  • Way forward: Providing pregnant women with the healthcare they need simultaneously protects the woman’s health and helps to prevent her child from being orphaned at birth. To protect the mother is to protect the baby.

Defence against preventable diseases

HIV/AIDS testing and treatment

  • Issue: Each year of the last decade, at least 10 million children under the age of 18 lost either one or both parents to AIDS. According to UNAIDS, in 2017 there were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide known to be living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 1.8 million were children, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
  • Way forward: Progress is being made through providing mothers with medicine. Between 2010 and 2017, the percentage of pregnant women living with HIV who had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies increased by 33% (Source, 2017).

Child poverty issue 3: Education

Education is a huge key to unlocking the futures of children who are being held captive by poverty.

More than 260 million of the world’s children are not in school, while hundreds of millions are attending school yet not receiving any real education. Here are just a handful of the results from the World Data Report 2018 highlighting the importance of making sure every child receives a quality education:

  • Quality childhood education benefits the individual child and society as a whole.
  • The quality of a child’s education directly influences their learning results. No big surprise there, yet hundreds of millions of children today cannot read, write or perform basic maths equations despite attending school.
  • More schooling leads to higher wages. For each year of additional effective schooling, individual adult earnings increase by an average of 10%.
  • Quality education in early childhood impacts the ability to learn, think, process and problem-solve – for life.

Cause for hope

There has been a significant increase in the push to make early childhood and primary education universally accessible. The Global Partnership for Education reports that:

  • 77 million more children were in primary school in 2016 in GPE partner countries compared to 2002.
  • 38% of children were enrolled in pre-primary education in GPE partner countries in 2016 compared to 19% in 2002.
    If current trends continue, between 2017 and 2030, at least 22 million children will miss out on the pre-primary education so critical to their later ability to succeed in school and beyond. Funding and facilitating education as early as possible is of vital importance to stemming the tide of child poverty.

If all children born today in lower-middle income countries could be educated to even a basic level of literacy and numeracy skills, there would be a 13-fold increase in GDP over their lifetimes. When we take care of today’s children by providing nourishment, healthcare and basic education, we systematically empower them to take care of themselves (and their families) as adults.

Child poverty issue 4: Gender 

There’s no way to talk about education and poverty without acknowledging the enormous impact of the gender gap.

A worldwide study of human development levels (quality of life and levels of personal productivity and growth) compared with gender equality levels, confirms an undeniable link between the two. The 10 countries ranking lowest on the Human Development Index – Niger, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Mali, Liberia and Mozambique – had the highest levels of gender inequality.

For girls, this impacts every area of life:

Girls have far less access to education than boys. Female youths are 1.7 times more likely to be illiterate than male youths.

According to 2018 findings by the World Bank, girls given access to better education grow into women who:

  • are healthier
  • participate more in the formal labour market
  • earn higher incomes
  • have fewer children
  • marry at a later age
  • are less vulnerable to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • are able to provide better health care and education for their own children, should they choose to become mothers.

This combination of factors has enormous potential to lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty and to improve women’s rights. Notably, the better educated a society’s girls are, the more rights and influence they have as women.

Enforced early marriage

Globally, 1 in 5 girls are married before age 18. If child marriage does not decrease, there will be 1.2 billion women who were married as children by 2050.

Child brides face multiple threats including:

  • isolation, limited freedom and disempowerment
  • deprivation of their human rights to health, education and safety
  • sexual abuse and resulting physical, emotional and mental issues
  • dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth
  • increased likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS
  • domestic violence
  • perpetuated poverty due to their lack of access to education and economic opportunity.

Cause for hope

Thankfully, the last decade has seen a 15% decrease in the proportion of women married as children.

Child poverty issue 5: water and sanitation

Water is life. But 663 million people in our world don’t have access to safe drinking water, while 946 million don’t have access to proper sanitation, having no choice but to defecate in the open. A 2017 report shows a staggering level of inequality in access to WASH services around the world, including specific impacts on children.

Effective WASH services hold the key to:

  • Reducing diarrhoea and other enteric diseases.
  • Diarrheal diseases are the second highest contributors to global child mortality, causing about 10% of all deaths in children under five years.
  • Empowering children to attend school.
  • On average, women and children around the world spend 200 million hours every day collecting water.
  • An estimated one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle.
  • Up to 80% of illnesses in the developing world are caused by poor water and sanitation conditions, leading to children being absent from school – either because the children themselves fall sick, or because they have to stay home and look after a sick family member. In the case of a parent or guardian falling sick, it means loss of work, plunging the family deeper into poverty.
  • Reduce levels of malnutrition and stunting. In Indonesia, only 5% of urban wastewater is safely treated and disposed of, and children living in communities with open defecation during the first 1,000 days of life are 11 percentage points more likely to be stunted.

Cause for hope:

In 2015, 6.6 billion people – 91% of the global population – used an improved drinking water source compared with 82% in 2000.

Yet, despite significant overall increase in the provision of improved WASH facilities over the last two decades, as of 2017 only Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe are close to achieving universal basic water services. That’s a lot of the world still in need of safe water and improved sanitation.

Issue 6: Climate change and disaster relief 

Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change and are increasing in frequency and intensity, impede progress towards sustainable development. On average there is about one major disaster recorded on the global databases every day on earth, and intensity may be increasing, in some cases as a result of climate change.

Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, due to:

  • lack of access to both preventative vaccines and medical care following illness or injury.
  • increased chance of contagion through unsafe water and poor sanitation.
  • low levels of immunity to disease due to food instability and insufficient nutrient supply.
  • homes which are already unsafe shelters and therefore are subject to greater impact by natural disasters.

Cause for hope

We do not have to leave the poorest of the poor defenseless against disasters and climate change. We have the strategic planning knowledge to minimise risks from tsunamis, floods and cyclones through the use of disaster preparedness plans, land-use plans and early warning systems.

Preparation in advance of disasters is both a humanitarian and financial necessity. It’s estimated that investment in humanitarian preparedness in high-risk contexts yields an average financial return of 200%! That means every US$1 spent on preparing is worth an average US$2 needed in the event of an emergency.

How can one person make a difference to child poverty?

It’s about one person, empowering one child.

Every child has the right to a childhood – one that will enable them to thrive in the future. They cannot (and should never have to) provide themselves with all that they need – food, healthcare, clothing, shelter, education or psychosocially nurturing environments in which they are known,

loved and protected. It is the role of the world’s ‘grown-ups’ to give every child their own opportunity to ‘grow up’ – to grow into their full human potential.

Child poverty is a holistic problem, requiring a holistic solution

Compassion is a leading Christian child development charity, working with local churches in developing countries to release children from poverty. Our approach is a personal one: we link a child in poverty with a sponsor to empower them to break the cycle of poverty.

Through child sponsorship, we’re impacting children, families, communities and entire nations.

Courtesy: counterview.org

Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to effects of climate change

Rain
Suburban rains, Chennai
 

Text of the note prepared by Compassion UK, “Child Poverty: the Facts and the Future”, which is an in-depth guide to child poverty and how can one tackle the challenges:

Child. Poverty. Two words that should never be put together. Yet tragically this is the reality for an estimated 385 million children, accounting for more than half of the world’s extreme poor.

It can feel like an insurmountable problem – but we are making progress and there is plenty of cause for hope and further action. Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved. That’s 1 billion fewer people living in poverty today.

Yet, while the numbers of people trapped in extreme poverty are declining, the rate of release is slowing, so that in many parts of the world we are not currently on track to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, the first Sustainable Development Goal. With nearly 600 million people still deeply entrenched in poverty – over half of them children – we still have a long way to go.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific issues and what we can do to continue to effect change and bring an end to child poverty in our world.

Why focus on child poverty, not just poverty as a whole?

It’s down to a tragic yet undeniable formula: children in poverty grow into adults in poverty – and the cycle of poverty is then perpetuated.

But release a child from poverty – and you free a future adult (and potentially an entire family) from poverty.

In a world in which one in three children are identified as multi-dimensionally poor (compared with one in six adults), consider the impact that each of the following indicators has on a child …

Child poverty issue 1: Food and nutrition

Hunger and malnutrition are not the same thing.

Too many children in our world today are starving. But starvation is not the only food-related enemy. A child can have a full stomach, yet still suffer from a dangerous deprivation of the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive.

Malnutrition is responsible for half of all deaths in children under 5 years of age, claiming the lives of over 3 million children every year and those who do survive are affected for life … unless intervention comes in time.

  • Malnutrition kicks off a chain reaction.
  • Poor nutrition drastically weakens a child’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to sickness.
  • Chronic and acute sickness hamper cognitive function (the brain’s ability to learn and develop).
  • Poor learning & attendance at school affects a child’s education.
  • Low levels of education affect a child’s subsequent earning power in adulthood.
  • A child who began life in poverty may grow into an adult trapped in poverty with a family of their own … trapped in poverty (back to beginning of cycle).

Stunting

Children who suffer from malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of their life are also highly susceptible to stunting, a condition in which growth and development are impaired. The visible, physical effect is that a child’s height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median, and their strength and mobility is affected. The unseen internal repercussions of stunting are vast and steal a child’s future.

Cause for hope

Nutrition interventions can help minimise the effects of stunting or even stop it in its tracks, restoring potential to a child’s future.

When we provide children with the nutrition and healthcare they need in their first two years of life, we are attacking poverty in its infancy, rather than allowing it to attack infants themselves.

Lance is one child who has suffered greatly due to malnourishment. Thankfully, he’s been given back his future through nutritional and health interventions.

Poverty has stunted Lance’s growth, and at 8 years old he looks like a 4-year-old. He suffered from acute malnourishment and for years he was too weak to lift himself up and walk. Child sponsorship has enabled Lance to receive proper nourishment and healthcare. While still small for his age, Lance is now healthy and strong enough to play with other children.

Child poverty issue 2: Healthcare

The need for proper nutrition, especially in infancy and childhood, is closely linked to the need for access to affordable healthcare. While we strive to eradicate poverty as swiftly as possible, each year about 100 million people are forced into poverty as a result of health-related expenses.

Healthcare workers

  • Issue: Aside from affordability, the availability of healthcare workers is also a problem. Sub-Saharan Africa has a health worker deficit of 1.8 million– a figure which, without immediate and concerted action, will rise to 4.3 million over the next 20 years as the population rises.
  • Way forward:  The maths is clear on this one. The additional cost of providing sub-Saharan Africa with another 1 million community health workers would be an estimated US$3.1 billion per year. The return on that investment, in addition to the lives saved and suffering reduced, would be an estimated US$19.4 billion per yearfrom enhanced productivity.

Prenatal care for babies

  • Issue: A lack of healthcare or nutrition impacts a child’s life from birth (and even beforehand).
  • Way forward: Research estimates that 40% of neonatal deaths could be avertedwith key interventions around the time of birth. These include care by a skilled birth attendant, emergency obstetric care, immediate newborn care and newborn resuscitation. Another 30% could be saved through ‘kangaroo mother’ care with skin-to-skin contact starting from birth and other basic methods of prevention, management and treatment of neonatal issues

Prenatal care for mothers

  • Issue: Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causesrelated to pregnancy and childhood, with 99% of maternal deaths occurring in developing countries
  • Way forward: Providing pregnant women with the healthcare they need simultaneously protects the woman’s health and helps to prevent her child from being orphaned at birth. To protect the mother is to protect the baby.

Defence against preventable diseases

HIV/AIDS testing and treatment

  • Issue: Each year of the last decade, at least 10 million children under the age of 18 lost either one or both parents to AIDS. According to UNAIDS, in 2017 there were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide known to be living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 1.8 million were children, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
  • Way forward: Progress is being made through providing mothers with medicine. Between 2010 and 2017, the percentage of pregnant women living with HIV who had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies increased by 33% (Source, 2017).

Child poverty issue 3: Education

Education is a huge key to unlocking the futures of children who are being held captive by poverty.

More than 260 million of the world’s children are not in school, while hundreds of millions are attending school yet not receiving any real education. Here are just a handful of the results from the World Data Report 2018 highlighting the importance of making sure every child receives a quality education:

  • Quality childhood education benefits the individual child and society as a whole.
  • The quality of a child’s education directly influences their learning results. No big surprise there, yet hundreds of millions of children today cannot read, write or perform basic maths equations despite attending school.
  • More schooling leads to higher wages. For each year of additional effective schooling, individual adult earnings increase by an average of 10%.
  • Quality education in early childhood impacts the ability to learn, think, process and problem-solve – for life.

Cause for hope

There has been a significant increase in the push to make early childhood and primary education universally accessible. The Global Partnership for Education reports that:

  • 77 million more children were in primary school in 2016 in GPE partner countries compared to 2002.
  • 38% of children were enrolled in pre-primary education in GPE partner countries in 2016 compared to 19% in 2002.
    If current trends continue, between 2017 and 2030, at least 22 million children will miss out on the pre-primary education so critical to their later ability to succeed in school and beyond. Funding and facilitating education as early as possible is of vital importance to stemming the tide of child poverty.

If all children born today in lower-middle income countries could be educated to even a basic level of literacy and numeracy skills, there would be a 13-fold increase in GDP over their lifetimes. When we take care of today’s children by providing nourishment, healthcare and basic education, we systematically empower them to take care of themselves (and their families) as adults.

Child poverty issue 4: Gender 

There’s no way to talk about education and poverty without acknowledging the enormous impact of the gender gap.

A worldwide study of human development levels (quality of life and levels of personal productivity and growth) compared with gender equality levels, confirms an undeniable link between the two. The 10 countries ranking lowest on the Human Development Index – Niger, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Mali, Liberia and Mozambique – had the highest levels of gender inequality.

For girls, this impacts every area of life:

Girls have far less access to education than boys. Female youths are 1.7 times more likely to be illiterate than male youths.

According to 2018 findings by the World Bank, girls given access to better education grow into women who:

  • are healthier
  • participate more in the formal labour market
  • earn higher incomes
  • have fewer children
  • marry at a later age
  • are less vulnerable to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • are able to provide better health care and education for their own children, should they choose to become mothers.

This combination of factors has enormous potential to lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty and to improve women’s rights. Notably, the better educated a society’s girls are, the more rights and influence they have as women.

Enforced early marriage

Globally, 1 in 5 girls are married before age 18. If child marriage does not decrease, there will be 1.2 billion women who were married as children by 2050.

Child brides face multiple threats including:

  • isolation, limited freedom and disempowerment
  • deprivation of their human rights to health, education and safety
  • sexual abuse and resulting physical, emotional and mental issues
  • dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth
  • increased likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS
  • domestic violence
  • perpetuated poverty due to their lack of access to education and economic opportunity.

Cause for hope

Thankfully, the last decade has seen a 15% decrease in the proportion of women married as children.

Child poverty issue 5: water and sanitation

Water is life. But 663 million people in our world don’t have access to safe drinking water, while 946 million don’t have access to proper sanitation, having no choice but to defecate in the open. A 2017 report shows a staggering level of inequality in access to WASH services around the world, including specific impacts on children.

Effective WASH services hold the key to:

  • Reducing diarrhoea and other enteric diseases.
  • Diarrheal diseases are the second highest contributors to global child mortality, causing about 10% of all deaths in children under five years.
  • Empowering children to attend school.
  • On average, women and children around the world spend 200 million hours every day collecting water.
  • An estimated one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle.
  • Up to 80% of illnesses in the developing world are caused by poor water and sanitation conditions, leading to children being absent from school – either because the children themselves fall sick, or because they have to stay home and look after a sick family member. In the case of a parent or guardian falling sick, it means loss of work, plunging the family deeper into poverty.
  • Reduce levels of malnutrition and stunting. In Indonesia, only 5% of urban wastewater is safely treated and disposed of, and children living in communities with open defecation during the first 1,000 days of life are 11 percentage points more likely to be stunted.

Cause for hope:

In 2015, 6.6 billion people – 91% of the global population – used an improved drinking water source compared with 82% in 2000.

Yet, despite significant overall increase in the provision of improved WASH facilities over the last two decades, as of 2017 only Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe are close to achieving universal basic water services. That’s a lot of the world still in need of safe water and improved sanitation.

Issue 6: Climate change and disaster relief 

Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change and are increasing in frequency and intensity, impede progress towards sustainable development. On average there is about one major disaster recorded on the global databases every day on earth, and intensity may be increasing, in some cases as a result of climate change.

Children living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, due to:

  • lack of access to both preventative vaccines and medical care following illness or injury.
  • increased chance of contagion through unsafe water and poor sanitation.
  • low levels of immunity to disease due to food instability and insufficient nutrient supply.
  • homes which are already unsafe shelters and therefore are subject to greater impact by natural disasters.

Cause for hope

We do not have to leave the poorest of the poor defenseless against disasters and climate change. We have the strategic planning knowledge to minimise risks from tsunamis, floods and cyclones through the use of disaster preparedness plans, land-use plans and early warning systems.

Preparation in advance of disasters is both a humanitarian and financial necessity. It’s estimated that investment in humanitarian preparedness in high-risk contexts yields an average financial return of 200%! That means every US$1 spent on preparing is worth an average US$2 needed in the event of an emergency.

How can one person make a difference to child poverty?

It’s about one person, empowering one child.

Every child has the right to a childhood – one that will enable them to thrive in the future. They cannot (and should never have to) provide themselves with all that they need – food, healthcare, clothing, shelter, education or psychosocially nurturing environments in which they are known,

loved and protected. It is the role of the world’s ‘grown-ups’ to give every child their own opportunity to ‘grow up’ – to grow into their full human potential.

Child poverty is a holistic problem, requiring a holistic solution

Compassion is a leading Christian child development charity, working with local churches in developing countries to release children from poverty. Our approach is a personal one: we link a child in poverty with a sponsor to empower them to break the cycle of poverty.

Through child sponsorship, we’re impacting children, families, communities and entire nations.

Courtesy: counterview.org

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Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Ideally, there should be machines but there is no such plan. That means govt. wants people to continue with manual scavenging.

28 Nov 2019

Swacch Bharat

A recently released survey report says that over 96% of toilets in rural India have either septic tanks or different kinds of pits to collect human excreta. [See chart below] The report (#584) is based on a survey carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), formerly known as NSSO, under the ministry of statistics. Since the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) officially claims that over 10 crore individual household latrines have been built as of date, there have to be about 9.8 crore such septic tanks and pits out there. 

However, there is no word about whether these tanks/pits are being emptied out and cleaned. In fact, there is no money kept aside for this essential task. It is the responsibility of the owner.

It takes a couple of years for a septic tank to fill up and need cleaning. Open pits will fill up faster. Even if there is a system of liquid leaching out (as is the case with most of them) the faecal sludge that remains behind will need to be removed. It is only in the twin leach pit that this faecal sludge will become free of pathogens and odours – but they make up only about 10.6% of the constructed toilets. Even then, the dry sludge in such systems will need to be removed.

Types%20of%20Toilet.png

Who is going to do this? Ideally, there are machines mounted on trucks that can pump out the sludge (if in a semi-liquid form) and dispose it off somewhere. But no such measure is mandated nor are any funds kept for such machines which cost upwards of Rs.12 lakh each.

This means that families which are proud owners of these toilets will either (a) hire a manual scavengers team to clean the tank/pit periodically; or (b) pay a contractor who has a machine to do the job, if they can find one nearby.

Since we are talking about rural India here, the chances that a convenient machine will be available for hire nearby are remote at least for now. On the other hand, manual scavenging is an age-old practice and there are designated sections of people – designated by their caste – who are supposed to do this ‘dirty’ work, no matter that this inhuman practice is officially illegal. 

So, in all probability the practice of manual scavenging will be the path of choice. That is, some people will be summoned and paid for emptying out the collected excreta in the tank/pit using buckets, lowering themselves into the sludge. They will then take it out somewhere – some drain or nallah, or some empty field or barren land – and dump it there. Several micro-surveys have confirmed that this is what is happening.

On the other hand, if a family does not do this, the only other option would be to stop using the latrine. Otherwise their septic tank or pit will overflow.

Has the govt., which has been proudly talking about the revolution brought in by the Swachh Bharat Mission, considered all this? On paper, yes, they say that periodic cleaning is a must. In fact, they have recently released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for cleaning sewers and septic tanks, drafted by a premier institution, the Central Public Health & Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO), under the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs. It gives detailed guidance on how many types of safety equipment are essential for those who do this work (44 types) and lays down exact protocol for cleaning. But on the ground, in distant far flung villages, will this really happen? 

More likely, the manual scavengers will work as usual – and continue to die as usual. According to estimates by the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), approximately 2000 manual scavengers die every year based on media reports. These do not fully record the number of such deaths while cleaning septic tanks. Now, with so many new septic tanks these deaths may mount and the illegal practice of manually removing human excreta will get a new shot of life.

Courtesy: News Click

Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Ideally, there should be machines but there is no such plan. That means govt. wants people to continue with manual scavenging.

Swacch Bharat

A recently released survey report says that over 96% of toilets in rural India have either septic tanks or different kinds of pits to collect human excreta. [See chart below] The report (#584) is based on a survey carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), formerly known as NSSO, under the ministry of statistics. Since the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) officially claims that over 10 crore individual household latrines have been built as of date, there have to be about 9.8 crore such septic tanks and pits out there. 

However, there is no word about whether these tanks/pits are being emptied out and cleaned. In fact, there is no money kept aside for this essential task. It is the responsibility of the owner.

It takes a couple of years for a septic tank to fill up and need cleaning. Open pits will fill up faster. Even if there is a system of liquid leaching out (as is the case with most of them) the faecal sludge that remains behind will need to be removed. It is only in the twin leach pit that this faecal sludge will become free of pathogens and odours – but they make up only about 10.6% of the constructed toilets. Even then, the dry sludge in such systems will need to be removed.

Types%20of%20Toilet.png

Who is going to do this? Ideally, there are machines mounted on trucks that can pump out the sludge (if in a semi-liquid form) and dispose it off somewhere. But no such measure is mandated nor are any funds kept for such machines which cost upwards of Rs.12 lakh each.

This means that families which are proud owners of these toilets will either (a) hire a manual scavengers team to clean the tank/pit periodically; or (b) pay a contractor who has a machine to do the job, if they can find one nearby.

Since we are talking about rural India here, the chances that a convenient machine will be available for hire nearby are remote at least for now. On the other hand, manual scavenging is an age-old practice and there are designated sections of people – designated by their caste – who are supposed to do this ‘dirty’ work, no matter that this inhuman practice is officially illegal. 

So, in all probability the practice of manual scavenging will be the path of choice. That is, some people will be summoned and paid for emptying out the collected excreta in the tank/pit using buckets, lowering themselves into the sludge. They will then take it out somewhere – some drain or nallah, or some empty field or barren land – and dump it there. Several micro-surveys have confirmed that this is what is happening.

On the other hand, if a family does not do this, the only other option would be to stop using the latrine. Otherwise their septic tank or pit will overflow.

Has the govt., which has been proudly talking about the revolution brought in by the Swachh Bharat Mission, considered all this? On paper, yes, they say that periodic cleaning is a must. In fact, they have recently released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for cleaning sewers and septic tanks, drafted by a premier institution, the Central Public Health & Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO), under the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs. It gives detailed guidance on how many types of safety equipment are essential for those who do this work (44 types) and lays down exact protocol for cleaning. But on the ground, in distant far flung villages, will this really happen? 

More likely, the manual scavengers will work as usual – and continue to die as usual. According to estimates by the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), approximately 2000 manual scavengers die every year based on media reports. These do not fully record the number of such deaths while cleaning septic tanks. Now, with so many new septic tanks these deaths may mount and the illegal practice of manually removing human excreta will get a new shot of life.

Courtesy: News Click

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Mahul needs you

The residents who had been ‘rehabilitated’ to Mahul, today languish in apathetic conditions facing life-threatening diseases

27 Nov 2019

Mahul residents

While the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi were performing political acrobatics in Maharashtra, doctors were helping people of Mahul, often dubbed a ‘gas chamber’, fight for their lives.

The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) which has been fighting tooth and nail to get justice for the victims in Mahul, organized a medical camp there on November 17, 2019, where doctors voluntarily joined in to treat patients who are suffering from life-threatening diseases like asthma, heart and lung problems, skin infections and cancer. These victims of the ignorant government have been left to fend for themselves – whether it be housing, food, water or medicines.


The Mahul issue

Mahul, not very fondly referred to as a ‘toxic hell’ and a ‘gas chamber’ by its residents, is a small fishing village in the Trombay area.

Not by choice, the residents who were once to be only temporary inhabitants in the area, have now been left to become permanent residents and rot to death.

After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) razed homes along the Tansa water pipeline, it has sent over 5,500 economically backward families from allegedly ‘illegal’ settlements in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Powai, Vakola and Bandra (East), to slowly perish in Mahul.

Their homes were razed for urban infrastructure projects worth crores and they were sent to a heavily industrialized area with refineries and chemical factories belonging to companies like Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics, Tata Power and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF).

Reports by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, National Green Tribunal, Comptroller and Auditor General and KEM Hospital have all come to the same conclusion. Mahul is uninhabitable.

Reports have found the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, styrene and toluene among others. These VOCs are mainly known to attack the central nervous system, causing irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

The levels of toluene diisocyanate, released by the Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, have been found to be the highest – 0.169 parts per million, way higher than the permissible levels of 0.21 ppm. Toluene is notorious for affecting the kidney, liver and impairing the immune system, The Indian Express reported.

The report by KEM hospital found that 67.1 per cent of Mahul’s population suffered from breathlessness, 86.6 per cent had eye irritation, and 84.5 per cent felt a choking sensation. The NGT report has clearly stated that there is a perceptible threat to the health of residents in Mahul.

The latest report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recommended that Mahul be declared an ‘Air Control Region’, with no residential premises allowed in the vicinity of the factories.

Housed at the Eversmile Project Affected Person (PAP) colony, the residents challenged their allotments after they started suffering from tuberculosis, respiratory infections, skin infections and other health issues due to carcinogenic air pollution. Mahul victims are rapidly losing hair and the corrosive water and air is acting on their skin with dark patches that constantly itch.

The water that comes through a pipeline that runs parallel to a sewage pipeline. Residents complain that the water consumption causes stomach and throat infections. They are cut-off from basic facilities – schools, railway stations and hospitals.

The course of their struggle for justice has seen over 256 deaths.


No compensation

Just when you’d think that things couldn’t get any worse for Mahul residents, India’s richest civic body, the BMC in October this year, filed a second petition in the Supreme Court, challenging an order by the Bombay HC over the rehabilitation of over 30,000 Mahul residents, Times Now reported.

In September this year, the Bombay HC had ordered the BMC to pay a compensation of Rs. 15,000 as rent to residents or provide them alternate accommodation. The BMC states a report by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) which states that the pollution levels have going down in recent years. However, this report contradicts the ones by the NGT and KEM hospital that say the residents must be shifted out immediately.

It told the SC that the rent mentioned to be given to the affected residents would put a burden of Rs. 3,000 crore on the exchequer. It is complaining that the directive of the SC is letting the actual polluters, the refineries and industries go scot free, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

Bilal Khan who is leading the movement to get justice for Mahul’s residents, said that the BMC is misleading the court by putting out such a huge expense statement. He told the Mumbai Mirror that the BMC has fixed deposits of Rs. 61,000 crore and gets Rs. 4,000 crore as annual interest on them, going on to add, “It is ready to spend Rs. 3,000 crore on a statue, but not to save the lives of citizens.”


Our appeal

We have and always will stand by the victims of Mahul who have been shortchanged only because of their economic backgrounds. With average family incomes of Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 20,000 per month and even lesser, it has become extremely difficult for the residents to cope up with mounting health expenses. It is worrying that residents of the Eversmile colony continue to live in unbearably sorrowful circumstances, even when the apex court has ordered for their relief.

Even then, the government is shirking responsibility for its citizens, passing over the blame to only save a little more money for itself.

Fortunately, a few residents have come together to help the Mahul victims. Free medical camps are being held every Sunday in the area and medical equipment too is being mobilized. Even then, they are falling short of life-saving medication and it is our sincere appeal to our readers to generous contribute towards the cause of saving the lives of the innocent victims of the society.

Please donate to the cause here.


Related:

M’tra Govt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavis govt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

Mahul needs you

The residents who had been ‘rehabilitated’ to Mahul, today languish in apathetic conditions facing life-threatening diseases

Mahul residents

While the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi were performing political acrobatics in Maharashtra, doctors were helping people of Mahul, often dubbed a ‘gas chamber’, fight for their lives.

The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) which has been fighting tooth and nail to get justice for the victims in Mahul, organized a medical camp there on November 17, 2019, where doctors voluntarily joined in to treat patients who are suffering from life-threatening diseases like asthma, heart and lung problems, skin infections and cancer. These victims of the ignorant government have been left to fend for themselves – whether it be housing, food, water or medicines.


The Mahul issue

Mahul, not very fondly referred to as a ‘toxic hell’ and a ‘gas chamber’ by its residents, is a small fishing village in the Trombay area.

Not by choice, the residents who were once to be only temporary inhabitants in the area, have now been left to become permanent residents and rot to death.

After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) razed homes along the Tansa water pipeline, it has sent over 5,500 economically backward families from allegedly ‘illegal’ settlements in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Powai, Vakola and Bandra (East), to slowly perish in Mahul.

Their homes were razed for urban infrastructure projects worth crores and they were sent to a heavily industrialized area with refineries and chemical factories belonging to companies like Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics, Tata Power and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF).

Reports by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, National Green Tribunal, Comptroller and Auditor General and KEM Hospital have all come to the same conclusion. Mahul is uninhabitable.

Reports have found the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, styrene and toluene among others. These VOCs are mainly known to attack the central nervous system, causing irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

The levels of toluene diisocyanate, released by the Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, have been found to be the highest – 0.169 parts per million, way higher than the permissible levels of 0.21 ppm. Toluene is notorious for affecting the kidney, liver and impairing the immune system, The Indian Express reported.

The report by KEM hospital found that 67.1 per cent of Mahul’s population suffered from breathlessness, 86.6 per cent had eye irritation, and 84.5 per cent felt a choking sensation. The NGT report has clearly stated that there is a perceptible threat to the health of residents in Mahul.

The latest report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recommended that Mahul be declared an ‘Air Control Region’, with no residential premises allowed in the vicinity of the factories.

Housed at the Eversmile Project Affected Person (PAP) colony, the residents challenged their allotments after they started suffering from tuberculosis, respiratory infections, skin infections and other health issues due to carcinogenic air pollution. Mahul victims are rapidly losing hair and the corrosive water and air is acting on their skin with dark patches that constantly itch.

The water that comes through a pipeline that runs parallel to a sewage pipeline. Residents complain that the water consumption causes stomach and throat infections. They are cut-off from basic facilities – schools, railway stations and hospitals.

The course of their struggle for justice has seen over 256 deaths.


No compensation

Just when you’d think that things couldn’t get any worse for Mahul residents, India’s richest civic body, the BMC in October this year, filed a second petition in the Supreme Court, challenging an order by the Bombay HC over the rehabilitation of over 30,000 Mahul residents, Times Now reported.

In September this year, the Bombay HC had ordered the BMC to pay a compensation of Rs. 15,000 as rent to residents or provide them alternate accommodation. The BMC states a report by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) which states that the pollution levels have going down in recent years. However, this report contradicts the ones by the NGT and KEM hospital that say the residents must be shifted out immediately.

It told the SC that the rent mentioned to be given to the affected residents would put a burden of Rs. 3,000 crore on the exchequer. It is complaining that the directive of the SC is letting the actual polluters, the refineries and industries go scot free, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

Bilal Khan who is leading the movement to get justice for Mahul’s residents, said that the BMC is misleading the court by putting out such a huge expense statement. He told the Mumbai Mirror that the BMC has fixed deposits of Rs. 61,000 crore and gets Rs. 4,000 crore as annual interest on them, going on to add, “It is ready to spend Rs. 3,000 crore on a statue, but not to save the lives of citizens.”


Our appeal

We have and always will stand by the victims of Mahul who have been shortchanged only because of their economic backgrounds. With average family incomes of Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 20,000 per month and even lesser, it has become extremely difficult for the residents to cope up with mounting health expenses. It is worrying that residents of the Eversmile colony continue to live in unbearably sorrowful circumstances, even when the apex court has ordered for their relief.

Even then, the government is shirking responsibility for its citizens, passing over the blame to only save a little more money for itself.

Fortunately, a few residents have come together to help the Mahul victims. Free medical camps are being held every Sunday in the area and medical equipment too is being mobilized. Even then, they are falling short of life-saving medication and it is our sincere appeal to our readers to generous contribute towards the cause of saving the lives of the innocent victims of the society.

Please donate to the cause here.


Related:

M’tra Govt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavis govt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

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