In 2019, 102 persons lost their lives in India after they fell into manholes, according to a report by National Crime Records Bureau.
Gujarat reported the maximum manhole deaths among states. Gujarat accounted for 30% of the national deaths. Maharashtra came second with 19.
However, it may be noted that this data is based only on the information received by this Commission from States/UTs/ Print and electronic media reports etc. and actual data may vary.
The deaths included accidental deaths when manual scavengers into the manhole for cleaning purpose and accidental fall into an open manhole.
According to the Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry, the number of people who died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country increased by almost 62% from 68 in 2018 to 110 in 2019.
Reports of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis state that 2019 saw the highest number of cases in the past five years, with 110 deaths. The reports showed that there had been 68 deaths in 2018, 93 in 2017, 48 in 2016 and 57 in 2015.
Manual scavenging is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
Owing to their work conditions, the sewer and sanitation workers are exposed to dangerous gases such as hydrogen sulide, methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, etc. a wide variety of microorganisms and decaying organic matter that may lead to rapid loss of consciousness even resulting in death. A worker entering the manhole is nothing but a mere euphemism of manual scavenging.