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24 Jan 2019, Edition - 1290, Thursday

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Human scavenging stays in Coimbatore: Public toilet-cleaning sans protective gear poses health problems

Keerthana Ramesh

Coimbatore: Manual scavenging may have been banned in India way back in 1993. But even 25 years after this, there is no dearth of human scavenging and in Coimbatore there are many, part of this sanitation chain cleaning public toilets using no mechanical equipment and even without protective clothing.

Devi (name changed) is 40 and cleans the public toilet at Ukkadam bus stand. “I was pushed to this job because of my family background. I have been doing this since I was 20; no one is willing to give me even a house-cleaning job because I have been cleaning public toilets,” she told The Covai Post

“Sometimes people treat me badly, though I haven’t felt all that bad doing this job for livelihood,” she adds.

But she is firm on one thing that she does not want her children to take up this job. “They all go to school and the elder one plans to pursue mechanical engineering,” she says.

ALSO READ : Rain sees sewage float around North Coimbatore underground pathway

Vasumati (name changed), who cleans toilets in several houses in the city, said: “I do cleaning of toilets in apartments and some houses. I am paid Rs 100-150 per cleaning. Most of the people are over 60 years and so I do not bargain with them. I have no children and it is the least I can do to take myself forward.”

Sanitation is important, but cleaning toilets without any protection or care can pose health problems and also lead to many incurable diseases, says physician Dr. V Prasad, Physician of the city.

“We have had many cases come to us because of cleaning sewage and dry toilets. The cleaning of toilets without proper protection gear can lead to immunity and thus cause heart ailments, skin problems and lung diseases,” say doctors.

“The shocking truth is that most of these cases are women. The gas which they inhale every time while cleaning could affect their uterus and also cause severe breathing problems,” added Dr Prasad.

“Now we have many schemes for sanitation like Swachh Bharat and Clean India etc. Sewage cleaners may by less in number but many people out there are cleaning public toilets as also those in houses,” says Rajan, who takes care of the public toilet in Gandhipuram.

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