Deceased Manual Scavenger’s Friend Has a Message for the Govt

“Someone’s excreta, urine, and blood covers our hands. It goes into our mouths,” Virender said.

1 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

Lashing out at the government and people who have allowed manual scavenging to continue, Virender Kumar, a manual scavenger in Delhi, said manual scavengers do not even get enough water to clean their hands after entering sewers to clean human waste.

Virender lost his 28 year-old-friend Anil on 16 September after the rope tied around his waist snapped while cleaning a deep sewer in west Delhi’s Dabri.

“We do not even get enough water to wash our hands. We eat with our dirty hands. Even we are humans. Someone’s excreta, urine, and blood covers our hands. It is inside our nails. It goes into our mouths,” Virender said, talking to The Quint.


Manual scavenging, an illegal profession, was outlawed in 1993 by Indian government under The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines Act.

The situation on the ground, however, remains beyond grim as people continue to be employed to clean sewers, septic tanks, drainage pipes and manholes manually.

Virender added that their community has been struggling to wriggle out of this profession and take up another job which allows them to live a dignified life, but societal pressure and lack of educational qualification has barred them from leaving the job.

“When we want to take up a government job, we are asked to pay Rs 3 lakh. Where do we manage Rs 3 lakh from?,” Virendra asked and said that he can only implore the government to rid them of the deadly job.

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