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National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE)

Context: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) is now preparing to undertake a nationwide survey to enumerate all people engaged in hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, an activity that has led to at least 351 deaths since 2017.

About the Scheme: 

National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE) is a Central Sector Scheme. The scheme is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

NAMASTE envision the safety and dignity of sanitation workers in urban India. This is supposed to be achieved by creating an enabling ecosystem that recognizes sanitation workers as one of the key contributors to the maintenance and operations of sanitation infrastructure. This recognition will prove helpful in providing sustainable livelihood and enhancing occupational safety to sanitation and septic workers through capacity building and improved access to safety gear and machines. 

Objectives of NAMASTE: 

The scheme aims to achieve the following:

  1. Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India
  2. Skilled workers should perform all sanitation work.
  3. No sanitation workers should come in direct contact with human faecal matter. 
  4. Sanitation workers are collectivized into Self Help Groups (SHGs) to empower them to run sanitation enterprises. 
  5. All sewer and septic tank sanitation workers (SSWs) have access to alternative livelihoods.
  6. Strengthened supervisory and monitoring systems at national, state and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) levels to ensure enforcement and monitoring of safe sanitation work
  7. Increased awareness amongst sanitation services seekers to seek services from registered and skilled sanitation workers 

Significance of the Scheme: 

NAMASTE will reduce the vulnerabilities of sanitation workers by providing access to alternative livelihood support and entitlements if implemented in true spirit. The scheme will enable sanitation workers to access self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities and break the intergenerationally in sanitation work.

In addition, NAMASTE would bring about a behaviour change amongst citizens towards sanitation workers and enhance demand for safe sanitation services.

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