National Commission for Safai Karamcharis chairman Manhar Valji Bhai Zala addressing a press conference at chief secretary’s conference hall in Kohima on Tuesday Credit: DIPR image

Kohima: In a first of its kind, the state government will be focusing on the welfare of safai karamcharis (workers employed to maintain cleanliness in an institution/municipality) in the state. This announcement comes after a team of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) under the ministry of social justice and empowerment, led by its chairman (Union minister of state) Manhar Valji Bhai Zala visited Nagaland to review the socio-economic and living status of safai karamcharis and their dependents in the state.

Addressing a press conference at the chief secretary’s conference hall on Tuesday, Zala expressed his contentment in finding that no form of discrimination among safai karamcharis was prevalent in the state. He also said that the state has no reports of sewer deaths as the state has less manual scavengers.

Zala conveyed that the chief secretary has assured to constitute a state commission to look into the welfare of the safai karamcharis, which will include monitoring committee, district and sub-district vigilance monitoring committee. Emphasizing on the dignity of labour, Zala said that the state government must also focus on these workers who engage in keeping the cities clean, by ensuring the entitlement due to them. He then briefed about the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their rehabilitation Act, 2013 and the Labour laws that protect and benefit the welfare of these workers.

In regard to cleanliness, Zala said that the performance of the state is good. He further said that with the proper implementation and regulation of the single use of plastic, the state has the potential to become a single plastic use free zone.

Meanwhile chief secretary Temjen Toy revealed that the state had the misconception of associating safai karamcharis with only manual scavengers. While this is the first visit to the state by the commission, Toy said the team led by Zala has clarified on many issues that the state remained ignorant about.

He said that the state had been submitting reports that there were no safai karamcharis in the state, with the concept that there were no manual scavengers in the state. He acknowledged Zala and the team for enlightening on various issues pertaining to these workers.

He added saying that the a proper survey will be conducted to re-look and address these targeted group of workers to further ensure them of their due entitlements, through various schemes and programmes.

He said that the state will also focus on the welfare of these workers, not just for the sake of providing data to the Ministry but to ensure the well-being of the safai karamcharis.

The Press conference, held on Tuesday was also attended by Principal secretary of Urban development Himato Zhimomi and other state officials. Zhimomi had earlier termed the visit of the Commission as an “eye-opener” for the state.

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