Four individuals lost their lives due to suffocation inside a drainage chamber in Baramati tehsil in Pune district of Maharashtra, India on March 15, 2023. The deceased included Praveen Atole, who had entered the chamber to clean a motor pipe clogged with cattle dung and urine. While working, he lost consciousness and his father went in to save him, but also collapsed. Two more people then entered the chamber and also suffocated.
This tragic incident highlights the prevalence of manual scavenging in India and the deep-rooted issue of caste discrimination. Manual scavenging is often performed by members of the Scheduled caste community, despite being prohibited by law in India since 1993.
According to the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, an estimated 2.5 million people still engage in manual scavenging in India. Many individuals are forced to take on this dangerous profession due to their caste status, poverty, lack of education, and skills.
The deaths of these four individuals in Baramati serve as a stark reminder of the hazards faced by manual scavengers on a daily basis.