Bihar plans dry toilets to stop manual scavenging

April 19th, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by admin  

Patna, April 19 (IANS) The Bihar government has decided to launch a central government-sponsored scheme to build dry toilets in the urban areas of the state to stop the practice of manual scavenging, done mainly by thousands of poor dalits, official sources said Saturday. “The decision to launch a centrally sponsored project worth Rs.2 billion to end the practice of manual scavengers was taken in a meeting chaired by (Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar to review activities of the urban development department,” said an official.

Under the project, dry toilets will be constructed in urban areas across the state. The central government would pay 75 percent of the corpus, the state government 15 percent and the beneficiaries 10 percent.

According to an official estimate, nearly 20,000 people work as manual scavengers in the state. The term ‘manual scavenging’ describes the work of manually cleaning and removing human faeces from toilets.

Earlier this week, the state government had launched a special package for the poorest sub-castes among dalits. The package envisages various schemes for their overall development over the next three years.

Kumar in August last year set up a commission to study the status of the neglected sub-castes among dalits and to suggest ways for their development.

The commission had identified 18 of the 22 dalit sub-castes as the most backward.

With a slew of measures for these disadvantaged groups, the chief minister is sending a strong political message ahead of the next parliamentary elections, observers say.

Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar’s population of 83 million.

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