Chennai, December 23, 2022: In an effort to implement progressive measures in the space of urban sanitation, The Government of Tamil Nadu along with the support of the Urban Management Centre (UMC) recently launched the Sanitation Workers Development Scheme focusing on various welfare measures to provide benefits to sanitation workers and their families. The aim of the scheme is to make Tamil Nadu a state with zero fatality during sanitation work and ensure overall safety, well-being and dignified livelihoods of the sanitation workers.
More than 53,000 sanitation workers (including permanent and temporary workers) in the ULBs will be benefitted from this scheme along with the informal workers that are involved in works like desludging of onsite sanitation systems (OSS), maintenance of sewers and operation & maintenance (O&M) of sewage treatment plants (STP), institutional, public and community toilets.
For the implementation of this scheme, UMC is working closely with different departments of Tamil Nadu Government including the Municipal and Water Supply Department (MAWS), Town and Country Planning, Chennai Metro Water Board and TAHDCO (Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing Development Corporation) amongst others. UMC is taking the lead in implementing the scheme in collaboration with Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) which is supporting the state in implementation of FSM and inclusive sanitation.
The first step in the Sanitation Workers Development Scheme will be an extensive survey using a digital enumeration tool that identify and map every sanitation worker against all the safety and social welfare schemes of the Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu. Integration of technology, safety devices and appropriate machines would be done to promote the mechanization of sanitation work and ensure safe working conditions. Catering to the standardization and regulation of the delivery of sanitation services under the supervision of ULB or Private Sanitation Service Organisation (PSSO), this scheme will ensure the use of personal protective equipment and fair wages norms along with skilling and empanelment of sanitation workers and their self-help groups (SHGs).
A training ecosystem, based on national and international practices, will also be established in the state. This would target the capacity building of sanitation workers of different job roles to help them enhance their technical and soft skills. Through a combination of both theory and practical sessions, sanitation workers and their supervisors would learn the proper use of technology and machinery. Apart from the workers, other relevant stakeholders like state and ULB officials and PSSOs involved in sanitation work will also be provided regular training. This would include sensitization and orientation on various components of the scheme like their roles and responsibilities, safety protocols, and standard operating protocols.
Speaking about the implementation of the scheme, Manvita Baradi, Director, Urban Management Centre & Meghna Malhotra, Deputy Director, Urban Management Centre and Member, NFSSM Alliance, said, “The increase in India’s urban population has put significant pressure on the sanitation sector while exacerbating the conditions of the sanitation workers including endangering their lives. In order to improve the overall sanitation value chain, it is imperative to ensure safety and dignity of sanitation workers. There is a need to deploy appropriate and adequate machinery and safety gear to ensure accident-free working conditions. The sanitation workers and their families should also be registered under different welfare and social security schemes from both state and centre governments. We witnessed a positive transformation in the lives of sanitation workers as a result of implementing GARIMA scheme in Odisha and were keen to replicate the measures to aid the sanitation workers in other states.”
Manvita and Meghna further added, “Tamil Nadu has been one of the leading states to implement new initiatives in the urban sanitation space in addition to being the first state in India to issue comprehensive operative guidelines for septage management. There is a huge potential for further impact in sanitation with more than 48 percent population of Tamil Nadu residing in urban areas. We are delighted to collaborate with the leaders of Tamil Nadu government who are keen to work towards the well-being of their citizens. We are confident that this scheme will ensure improvement in the sanitation ecosystem along with safety and dignity of the sanitation workers who work tirelessly to keep our cities clean.”
Shiv Das Meena, Additional Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu Government, said, “Our compassionate State Government considered the betterment of the sanitation workers, and to ensure their safety, announced the implementation of the ‘Sanitation Workers’ Development Scheme’. About 53,300 conservancy workers of the urban local bodies and conservancy workers in private sectors, establishments, and informal workers shall benefit from this scheme. The first phase of the scheme shall be implemented in the Greater Chennai Corporation (zone 6), Madurai Corporation, Pudukottai Municipality, Pollachi Municipality and Cheranmahadevi Town Panchayat. The scheme will be eventually expanded to every urban local body in the state. This scheme enables the sanitation workers to avail the benefits of various government welfare schemes, ensures their children get proper education, provides necessary skill training to learn the use of new technology and machinery, and offers opportunities for alternative occupations based on their interest. The scheme also provides loan assistance through banks to help the sanitation workers to start alternate businesses.”
The scheme will ensure the availability of appropriate machinery and safety devices for the sanitation work along with setting up of Emergency Response Sanitation Unit (ERSU) to protect the core sanitation workers from hazards. To ensure social security of the sanitation workers, provisions like regular health check-up and vaccination camps, changing-cum-resting lounges, disability allowance in case of any injuries, coverage under health, accidental and life insurance, and pension scheme will be implemented. To extend the benefits to the families of sanitation workers, educational support to the dependents, linkage to social security schemes and access to financial literacy and microcredit through SHGs would be provided.
The scheme was inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister M K Stalin last week in the presence of other government dignitaries including Commercial Tax and Registration Minister P. Moorthy, Finance Minister P.T.R. Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Minister for Cooperation I. Periyasamy, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran, Rural Development Minister K.R. Periyakaruppan, and Fisheries Minister Anitha R. Radhakrishnan; MP S. Venkatesan; MLAs M. Boominathan and G. Thalapathi; Collector S. Aneesh Sekhar; Mayor Indirani Ponvasanth; Corporation Commissioner Simranjeet Singh Kahlon; Municipal Administration and Water Supply Secretary Shiv Das Meena, and Municipal Administration Director P. Ponniah. The scheme is currently being implemented on a pilot basis in five Urban Local Bodies (ULB), namely, Greater Chennai Corporation (zone 6), Pudukottai Municipality, Pollachi Municipality, Madurai Corporation and Cheranmahadevi Town Panchayat. Currently, enumeration efforts are being kicked off in these ULBs post which the scheme will eventually be scaled across the state.