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Santosh Khaitre’s journey from manual scavenger to member of self-help group

Manual Scavenging persists in various parts of the country even though it has been banned under the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction.

News18.com | Updated: January 14, 2022, 12:11 PM IST

Manual Scavenging persists in various parts of the country even though it has been banned under the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.

These sanitation workers make their way into the clogged drains, sewers and septic tanks in order to clean them, risking their lives. They spend several hours inhaling toxic fumes while leaving them vulnerable to health hazards.

Harpic World Toilet College in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad has helped many sanitation workers to transform their lives and one such person is Santosh Khaitre.

The 35-year-old sanitation worker, Khaitre, used to clean drains with bare hands risking his life and health but now the training programme at HWTC has changed his life forever. He proudly recalls the moment when Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan presented him a machine to clean drains.  

Recalling his visit to Mumbai, he says, “Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan gave me the Kamroder machine to clean drains with. I can now clean drains without having to get myself down and dirty.”

Khaitre, who is a member of a self-help group in Aurangabad, now works to change the lives of his fellow sanitation workers. He was introduced to concepts like workplace norms, machine operations, sanitation values, market and demand during his training at HWTC. His focus has now shifted to the health and education of his children.

“My family and I cleaned the nalas (drains) with our bare hands. The very idea of caring for our lives was alien to us. If our work posed a threat to our safety or caused us to end up with a disease, that’s just the way it was,” Santosh recalls.

 “I want to make sure they have a good life and a bright future ahead of them,” says Santosh about his children.

Mission Pani, an initiative of News 18- Harpic India, is a campaign for water conservation, safe sanitation and hygiene. The campaign aims to change attitudes and behaviour towards water consumption and safe sanitation.

A book ‘101 Stories of Inspiration’ chronicles such stories of success and transformation of lives of the sanitation workers. The book was unveiled at the Mission Paani World Toilet Day event on November 19, 2021.  

Join the Mission Paani Movement.

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