Who is a Manual Scavenger?

Last updated on Apr 8, 2022

Any person who has been employed to handle undecomposed human waste from an insanitary latrine, open drain or pit or railway track is a manual scavenger. The person could have been employed by anyone – say someone from their village or by an agency or contractor. It does not matter if they were given regular employment or engaged on contract basis.

Any person who has been employed to clean human waste and does so with the help of the appropriate protective gear and equipment will not be considered a manual scavenger.


Another group of people called ‘safai karamcharis’ (“cleanliness workers”) are also sometimes considered as manual scavengers – however, they usually refer to people working as sweepers or cleaning workers in the municipalities, government or private organisations.

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Related Resources

Is it legal to employ a Manual Scavenger?

It is illegal to employ someone as a manual scavenger. For cleaning sewer or a septic tank, necessary protective gear must be provided.

How can Manual Scavengers be rehabilitated?

The Municipality and the Panchayat have a duty to rehabilitate those involved in manual scavenging based on the list prepared from survey.

Is building an Insanitary Latrine unlawful?

Constructing an insanitary latrine is unlawful and an offence under the Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

Who is responsible for Demolishing or Converting an Insanitary latrine?

The person who occupies the property on which an ‘insanitary latrine’ exists has to demolish or convert it.

How to file a complaint for Safai Karamcharis?

If laws for safai karamcharis are not followed, you can file a complaint to the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK).

Reporting a Crime/Atrocity

If a crime has been committed against you due to your identity as member of the SC/STs, you can approach several places for immediate relief.