Open Letter to MP’s regarding the Amendment to PEMSR Act 2013

  • September 18, 2020

More than 90 percent of people employed as manual scavengers belong to the scheduled castes. Since 1993 more than a thousand people have lost their lives through this casteist practice of employing SC as manual scavengers for the work of cleaning the septic tanks, directly or contractually in India. In the last ten years, there has been a four-fold increase in sewer deaths.


The government is introducing The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament which started on 14th September. This bill is an amendment to the existing Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. The Amendment Bill proposes a complete mechanisation of sewer cleaning and a proposal of introduction of ways for the ‘on site’ protection and compensation of the manual scavengers in the case of sewer death.


Various organisations and activists point out that the text of the proposed Bill was not put in public domain and no comments have been sought from the public. A document published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on its website in March offers no analysis of the reasons for failure of the 2013 Act. The changes suggested mainly focus on the technological aspects of the problem, completely ignoring the imperative to identify and rehabilitate those workers who had been forced by caste-based Indian society to engage in this undignified occupation for generations.


They have written an open letter to the Members of Parliament demanding that the government follow the due process in the passing of the Amendment Bill, which should have been through a public consultation and after discussion on it in the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The letter has been published in the Eradicate Manual Scavenging blog. A Twitter campaign is going on as well, on behalf of the same collective.


Open Letter to Members of Parliament regarding the Amendment to Prohibition of Engagement as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013


 Dear Members of Parliament,


We the undersigned are writing to you to express our extreme concern over amendments being made to the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 (PEMSR Act 2013) without any form of public consultation.


‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ has been listed by the Government in the list of new Bills proposed to be introduced during the on-going session of the Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the existing Act which was brought in 2013 to put an end to the undignified caste-based practice of manual scavenging. It is of particular concern to us that the existing Act has not only failed to put a stop to the daily occurrence of manual scavenging, but it has not even been able to curb even the most disastrous consequences of this inhuman practice in the form of death due to manual scavenging. Another stark failure of the Act has been in the near complete failure in identifying and rehabilitating those engaged in this occupation.


In light of such failures, there is a definite need to make suitable amendments to the existing Act. But unfortunately, the government has chosen to undertake this necessary process in a completely non-consultative and non-transparent manner. The text of the proposed Bill was not put in public domain and no comments have been sought from the public. A document published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on its website in March offers no analysis of the reasons for failure of the Act. The changes suggested in the Act as part of this document mainly focus on the technological aspects of the problem, completely ignoring the imperative to identify and rehabilitate those workers who had been forced by caste-based Indian society to engage in this undignified occupation.


In the legislative agenda, the purport of the amendment Bill is listed as ‘complete mechanization of sewer cleaning and to provide better protection in work, the compensation in case of accidents’. The absence of any reference to the lives and demands of the workers suggests that even the proposed Bill may be narrowly focused on technological solutions. Any process of reform in the law should necessarily begin with the workers engaged in this occupation and the proposed changes should be available in all Indian languages to enable full democratic participation from all citizens. Public consultation processes would have offered a necessary corrective to these and other posing lacunae in the amendment Bill. Several groups have been working on different aspects of manual scavenging. Their inputs, based on their own experiences and interactions with workers, over the last several years, would strengthen and add value to the process of amending the Bill. It is also keeping with the process of consultation.


Hence, we urge you, as representatives of the people of the country, to demand that this amendment Bill be either sent back to the Ministry for public consultation or be referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee, so that we the people get an opportunity, based upon our grassroots experience, to enrich the Amendment Bill with the much-needed but missing concepts and provisions.


Endorsed by



S.No. Name
1 Action Initiative for Development (AID)
2 All India Forum for Right to Education
3 All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)
4 APPSC IIT Bombay
5 Babasaheb Ambedkar Social Innovation Council
6 Baghambar Pattanaik, President, Anti-Slavery India
7 Bangalore Dalit Forum
8 JSA-MUMBAI, JCoR-West Ibdia (Brinelle D’souza)
9 Centre for Amenities, Rehabilitation & Education
10 CSSIEP – National Law School of India University
11 Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network
12 Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi
13 Environics Trust
14 Sanvidhan Foundation Nagpur Maharashtra (EZ Khobragade IAS retd, Founder)
15 Forum Against Oppression of Women
16 Garment Labour Union (GLU)
17 Hazards Centre
19 Indian Community Activists Netqork (ICAN)
20 Indian Social Institute Bengaluru
21 JanaVignana Vedika
22 Karnataka Socialist Forum
24 Mineral Inheritors Rights Association
25 Movement for Justice
26 National Adivasi Alliance
27 National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
29 People’s Union of Civil Liberties-Karnataka
30 Rehabilitation Research Initiative (Pragya Akhilesh)
31 Saajhi Duniya
32 Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka
33 Saheli Women’s Resource Centre
34 Sarvahara Jan Andolan Raigad
35 Slumjagatthu, Karnataka
36 Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund
37 Socialist Party (India)
39 Swaraj india
40 The Diocesan council of catholic women
41 The Kautilya Society (The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata Chapter)
42 The NUJS Legal Aid Society, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata
43 Vimochana
44 WeCan Women’s Coalition Trust,India (Convenor Razia Ismail)
45 Women-Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
46 Commitment development and policy research
47 Samanvaya
48 Christian Workers Movements, India
50 Feminists in Resistance
51 Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum
52 HEESAW Society
53 Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika



1 জিতেন নন্দী
2 రాఘవ నల్లాని/Raghav
3 A R. Vasavi
4 A. Ahmed
5 Aahana Ganguly
6 Abdul Basith
7 Abdul Matin, Jadavpur University Kolkata
8 Abhishek Kumar
9 Abir Dasgupta
10 Aditya Naique
11 Agrata
12 Akshay Sawant
13 Alwyn D’Souza
14 Amaana
15 Aman S
16 Amar Jesani
17 Amita Pitre
18 Amitadyuti Kumar, working president,n
19 Ammu Joseph
20 Anand S Pillay
21 Anant Phadke
22 Ananya Kundu
23 Anil kumar G N
24 Anil Sadgopal, All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) Formerly Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Delhi
25 Anita Rego
26 Anjor B
27 Ankit Goyal
28 Ankit Singh
29 Anurag
30 Anushka Tiwari
31 Aparajay
32 Arathi
33 Arati Chokshi
34 Aru Somya
35 Arumugam
37 Arun Kumar
38 Ashiqa
39 Asmina Venkatesh
40 Atul Samnani
41 Audrey Lawrence
42 Avani Chokshi, AIPF
43 Ayesha Samah
44 Ayswarya Murthy
45 B P Buxar
46 Babanna DS
47 Balu
48 Banku Lahiri
49 Barathi
50 Barsha
51 Beena Choksi
52 Beena Pallical
53 Bharati Roy
54 Bhavana Balasubramanian
55 Bijaya Biswal
56 Bindhulakshmi Pattadath
57 Bittu K R
58 Br. Philip Pinto
59 Brinda Pancholi
60 C Joseph
61 Cavery Bopauah
62 Cedric Prakash
63 Chaitanya Bhat
64 Chayanika Shah
65 Christina
67 Dania Siddiq
68 David Selvaraj
69 Debangshu Mukherjee
70 Debarati
71 Deepak Kumar
72 Deepak Malghan
73 Deepika Joshi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh
74 Denzil Fernandes
75 Devesh Khatarker
76 Devika Shetty
77 Devinder Chander
78 Dharma Teja Numburi
79 Dinesh Thakur
80 Diptiranjan Pradhan
81 DM Narasimha Murthy
82 Dr Jacob Copeman, Edinburgh University
83 Dr M Ramesh kumar
84 Dr Mira Shiva
85 Dr Pramod Bagde
86 Dr Preeti E Ramanathan
87 Dr Sandip Medhe
88 Dr Saswati Ghosh
89 Dr Vikas Bajpai
90 Dr. Bhupinder Singh
91 Dr. Goldy M George
92 Dr. Hazel D’Lima rtd. Principal,College of social Wk
93 Dr. Himabindu Mannava
94 Dr. K.R.Antony
95 Dr. Mohan Rao
96 Dr. Nagesh Senigarapu
97 Dr. Ramesh Awasthi
98 Dr. Richard Devadoss
99 Dr. Sejal Tambat
100 Dr. Suraiya Tabassum
101 Dr. Suresh Sanikommu
102 Dr. Sylvia Karpagam
103 Durgesh Solanki
104 Elsa
105 Falak Jalali
106 Firoz
107 Francis Gonsalves
108 Franis D’souza
109 Frazer Mascarenhas
110 Freny Manecksha
111 G Ravi
112 Gaffat
113 Gayatri Singh, Sr Advocate
114 Geeta Balakrishnan
115 Geeta Seshu
116 Gitanjali
117 Gouranga Ch. Mohapatra
118 Govindaraju N
119 GSS Bhanu
120 Gulobi
121 Gurumurthy Kasinathan
122 Hamza Zubair
123 Hashim
124 Indira C
125 Inzemamul Haque
126 Jagdeep
127 Jagrat Biswal
128 Jayashree Kamble
129 Jayashree Ramadas
130 Jeeva Sundari
131 Jennifer Fernandes
132 Jerome Francis
133 Jeyakumar
134 Jills Daniel
135 Joel Lee, Williams College
136 Joel Thomas Mathews
137 John kerketta
138 John Moolachira
139 Josna T Jacob
140 Judith siqueira
141 Jugal Ramnani
142 Jyotsna Jha
143 Jyotsna Joshi
145 Kalyani Sreekumar, National Law School, Bangalore
146 Kanthi Swaroop
147 Karthik Ranganathan
148 Kathyayini Chamaraj
149 Kumkum Roy
150 Kumud Teresa Sawansi
151 L S Jowett
152 Lakshmi krishnamurty
153 Lancia Rodrigues
154 Larissa Pitter
155 Latha
156 Liliana il Graziosco Merlo Turan
157 Madan Lal, Socialist Party of India
158 Madhava Prasad
159 Madhu Prasad
160 Mahalaya Chatterjee
161 Malar
162 Malini Ranganathan
163 Mamtha Rao
164 Manasi Pingle
165 Manav
166 Manavi Atri
167 Manikandan Velayutham
168 Manish Gautam
169 Manisha Naik
170 Manohar
171 Marcia D’Cunha
172 Mari Marcel Thekaekara
173 María Dolores Herrero Granado, University of Zaragoza
174 Mariyam Maqbool
175 Meena Gopal
176 Meera Sanghamitra, Human Rights Activist, NAPM
177 Megha K
178 Mehak Sidhu
179 Mirza
180 Mithun
181 Mohammed Arbaz
183 Mohit
184 Mohit Raj
185 Mohitha
186 Mohithkumar
187 Monisha Rao
188 Moon
190 Mukti
191 N. Jayaram
192 Nabeel
193 Nachiketa Udupa
194 Nakkeeran
195 Nandini
196 Nandini Janardhanan
197 Natasha Sharma
198 Natta Habravysh
199 Nawaz Heggere
200 Nayaz Khan A
201 Neelabh Gupta
202 Neerja
203 Nehemiah Christie
204 Nimisha agarwal
205 Nisha Biswas
206 Nivedita Louis
207 Niveditha
208 P J Joseph
209 P. B. M. Basaiawmoit
210 Palash
211 Pamela Philipose
212 Paresh Chhajed-Picha
213 Paresh Shah
214 Pavithra Raghavan
215 Persis Ginwalla
216 Philip
217 Philip
218 Prajwala Hegde
219 Pranav Jeevan P
220 Prasanna I
221 Prashant Ingole
222 Prashant Rao
223 Prashanth N Srinivas
224 Prathamesh
225 Pravat kumar Sahoo
226 Preeti Mehra
227 Prem Ram M R
228 Prof Roop Rekha Verma
229 Prof. K.Chakradhar Rao
230 Prof. Sushrut Jadhav, University College London
231 Pruthvi
232 Puja, Lawyer, Patna
233 Putul Sathe
234 R Srivatsan
235 Radhika Desai
236 Radhika Kaulgud
237 Raghavendra B Pachhapur
238 Rajaraman Sundaresan
239 Rajeev B R
240 Rajendran Narayanan
241 Rajeshri
242 Raju Chalwadi
243 Rakshitha V
244 Rangmatipadar
245 Rava Le Blanc
246 Rekha Mammen
247 Richa Sharma
248 Riddhi SIngh
249 Rinchin
250 Rishav
251 Rita
252 Riya Kothari
253 Robin Christopher J
254 Rohini
255 Rohit Bansod
256 Rohith Vishwanath
257 Rosamma Thomas
258 Rumi Harish
259 S G Vasudev
260 S Subramanian, Economist
261 S Vishwanath
262 S. Krishnaswamy
263 Sagar
264 Sagari R Ramdas, Food Sovereignty Alliance,India
266 Samuel Sathyaseelan
267 Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik
268 Sandeep Pandey
269 Sanjana
270 Santosh Kumar
271 Saranga Ugalmugle
272 Satya Sagar
273 Satyamitran Guruhari
275 Selva
276 Selva, Chennai
277 Shania Sharma
278 Sharada Ganesh
279 Shashank SR
280 Shashidhar
281 Shatakshy
282 Shazin Siddiqui
283 Sheeva Dubey
284 Shefali Sharan
285 Shewli Kumar
286 Shilpaa Anand
287 Shishir K Jha
288 Shiva S
289 Shiva Shankar, Chennai
290 Shiva Thrishul
291 Shivangi Anand
292 Shomita Kundu
293 Shreekumar
294 Shreya Gajbhiye
295 Shreya Munoth, Advocate
296 Shubhangi
297 Shweta
298 Siddharth KJ, Independent Researcher, Benglauru
299 Siddharth Mandrekar Rao
300 Siddhartha, IIT Bombay
301 Sidhant Arya
302 Sitamsini
304 Snehil, Student, National Law School of India University, Bangalore
305 Sonali R
306 Sophiya
307 Sophy K J
308 Spoorthi Cotha
309 Sr. Poonam CJ
310 Sreejith Murali
311 Sri Mirle
312 Srinivasan G
313 Srushti
314 Sruthi K
315 Stanley JG Thangaraj
316 Subhashini Ali
317 Sudha N
318 Sudhir Chopra
319 Sujatha Surepally
320 Sukla Sen
321 Suma H
322 Sumi Krishna
323 Sumit
324 Sumit Sarkar
325 Supratik Chakraborty
326 Surabhi Agarwal
327 Susan Visvanathan, CSSS, JNU
328 Sushant Khalkho
329 Sushovan Patnaik
330 Suvrat Raju
331 Swaliha Asiya
332 swapnil gedam
333 Swathi Shivanand
334 Swati bhatt
335 Swatija
336 Swetha
337 Swetha D
338 Syed Junaid
339 Syed Tousif Masood
340 T. Venkat
341 Tanya Singh
342 Tara Murali
343 Thallapelli Praveen
344 Tharun Bathini
345 Uma Chakravarti
346 Uma Shankari
347 Umesh
349 Urvashi Sahni
350 V Geetha
351 V U M Rao
352 Vaidish Sumaria
353 Vani Sharma
354 Veena Shatrugna
355 Venkatesh
356 Veronica DSouza
357 Vidhi Narang
358 Vidya Dinker
359 Vidya Venkat
360 Vihaan, Queer Feminist Transman
361 Vijay Krishna
362 Vijay Ramanathan
363 Vijaya
364 Vinay K Sreenivasa
365 Vineeta Bal
366 Vineetha Venugopal
367 Vinod Durge
368 Vinod Verma
369 Visvak
370 Zuber



Feature image: Down To Earth

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