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Hailing the National Advisory Commission’s (NAC) recommendation to ‘fully abolish’ manual scavenging in the country by 2012, social activist Bindeshwar Pathak Sunday said the government should also focus on rehabilitating the scavengers.

‘It’s an encouraging news and a great step towards the betterment of human scavenger’s future. We’ll have to bring them into society’s mainstream for their development,’ Pathak said.

Founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, Pathak cited the examples of Rajasthan’s Alwar and Tonk towns, which were declared ‘manual scavenging free’ last year because of his efforts.

‘We provided vocational training to the scavengers like food processing, tailoring, embroidery and beauty treatments. If we successfully manage to abolish manual scavenging completely in the country, Gandhiji’s dream would be realised,’ Pathak added.

The NAC, headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Saturday asked the government to abolish human scavenging in the country by 2012.

Parliament passed the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act in 1993, declaring the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry (non-flush) latrines to be an offence punishable with imprisonment and a fine. But no one has been punished so far.

There are 1.3 million people employed in the practice in India.

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