New Delhi: The government is soon going to finalise a strategy to put an end to the practice of manual scavenging, union minister for social justice and empowerment, Mr Mukul B. Wasnik said at an ASSOCHAM event held here in New Delhi today.
“Even after the concerted efforts of the government to abrogate the problem of manual scavenging, it still remains to be addressed considering acute shortage of public conveniences across India,” said Mr Wasnik while addressing a national conference on ‘Social Inclusion and Affirmative Action: Reservation of SCs/STs in Private Sector’ organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“As per the 2011 Census, there are about 26 lakh insanitary toilets including the 13 lakh toilets where human excreta is discharged in open drains and of the remaining some are serviced by the human beings and even animals and with such a huge number of insanitary toilets there is bound to be manual scavenging,” said the minister.
Earlier, quoting the Census 2011 Mr Wasnik said “About 49.8 per cent of households in India are in open defecation, thus it is a huge problem and we are committed to address the same effectively.”
“Social inclusion in pursuit of providing equal opportunities to each and every individual is an agenda of supreme importance and the government has sought the support of industries and corporate bodies to carry forward this agenda with more determination and great vigour as the co-operation from the industries would revolutionise the entire system,” said Mr Wasnik while releasing an ASSOCHAM report titled ‘Initiatives for Affirmative Action on Inclusion of SCs and STs’.
Sharing his views on the efforts of the government to empower the weaker sections of the society the social welfare minister mentioned that as per the government’s recent public-procurement policy the government is committed to make 20 per cent of its total annual purchases of goods and services worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore from enterprises owned by SCs and STs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“As envisaged in the public-procurement policy of the government, we will purchase goods and services worth between Rs 7,000 crore and Rs 10,000 crore per year as part of the sub-quota of 20 per cent purchases from the enterprises owned by SCs and STs,” said Mr Wasnik. “The policy is being implemented but will take its final shape in two years time as while adopting the policy we had given a two year gestation period for the policy to take its final shape.”
While addressing the ASSOCHAM conference, the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Dr. P.L. Punia stressed upon the need for imparting education to the disadvantaged sections of the society. “Education is key to get rid of the deep-rooted evil of social disparity and there is a need to empower the socially deprived to perform and compete on a level platform with other sections of the society.”
“The country and the society as a whole has a huge responsibility towards the disadvantaged sections of the society which make about 25 per cent of India’s total population as per the census and we need to take necessary steps in this behalf to take India on the high growth path,” said Dr. Punia.
Amid others who spoke during the ASSOCHAM conference included: Mr Sunil Kanoria, vice president, ASSOCHAM and vice-chairman, SREI Infrastructure; Mr S.Y. Siddiqui, chairman, ASSOCHAM Labour Affairs Council and COO, Maruti Suzuki and Mr Vinay Rai, chairman, HRD, Education and Employment council of ASSOCHAM.
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