This will serve as a impartial guardian for sanitation workers.


Sanitation workers in urban India operate in a highly fragmented and crowded ecosystem, engaging with several agencies like ULBs, state boards, ministries. Acts such as the MS Act cover only a small fraction of sanitation workers who technically can be called “Manual Scavengers”. Organizations like NCSK and NSKFDC that are tasked with enforcing the terms of the MS Act would benefit from additional budgets and specialist technical capabilities. There is an urgent need to constitute a body that takes on some of these tasks and enforces them effectively, with supporting statutory and constitutional status.

We are proposing the creation of a body, titled ‘National Sanitation Worker Unit’ that will cover all types of sanitation workers and not just “manual scavengers” as defined in the MS Act. Some preliminary functions of this body will be to define safety standards, develop SOPs, design training programs, monitor policies and norms, and coordinate state and ULB level agencies.

National Sanitation Worker Unit (NCSK++), responsible for:

  • Defining safety standards and benchmarks
  • Developing SOPs, guidelines for sanitation work
  • Designing training programs
  • Designing model worker contracts
  • Maintaining a national database of workers
  • Initiating awareness campaigns
  • Monitoring and enforcing policies and norms
  • Grievance redressal and coordinating with NSKFDC for rehabilitation of workers
  • Coordinating with state-level bodies and safety officers in ULBs
  • Maintaining a robust and transparent monitoring and reporting framework on state of unsafe sanitation
  • Equivalent bodies at the state level to support the national sanitation worker unit
  • “Sanitation workers safety cell” in each ULB accountable for workers’ safety



Types of work: all

Gender: Male and female

Employment nature: Contractual and permanent

Personas: All personas


  • Coal Mining in India: Independent safety cell, Directorate General for Mines Safety, housed in Ministry of Labour to enforce worker safety protocols
  • Chairman of the NCSK has raised the issue of empowering the body by making it a statutory or constitutional body and bestow it with the powers of a civil court so that it can discharge its mandate effectively (Nov, 2017)


  • Fully staffed units at all levels, coupled with enforcement powers
  • Robust monitoring framework to hold units accountable

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