The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), after being headless for close to a year, has finally got a chairperson, vice-chairperson and member on board.



  • According to an office order by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the President approved the appointment of M Venkatesan as chairperson, Anjana Panwar as vice-chairperson, and Dr P P Vava as member.
  • After the current appointments, posts for four members remain vacant.
  • Due to vacancies over the past year, one consultant was looking after the works relating to sewer deaths in India.


What is National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK)?

  • NCSK was established as an institution to investigate the conditions of Safai Karamcharis (waste collectors) in India and make recommendations to the Government.
  • It is currently a non-statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.


Background of NCSK

  • The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 31.3.1997.
    • Hence, initially NCSK was established as a statutory body.
  • Later the validity of the Act was initially extended up to 2002 and thereafter up to 2004.
    • The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29.2.2004.
  • After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time through resolutions.
  • The tenure of the present Commission was up to March 2022. However, it was extended further for a period of three years.


What are the functions of NCSK?

  • The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Government regarding —
      • specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis,
      • study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for Safai Karamcharis,
      • investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
  • The NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
  • It is the only body keeping track of sewer deaths in the entire country.


What is the need for NCSK?

  • Deprivation among Safai Karamcharis —
      • The Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the Safai Karamcharis.
      • However, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated.
  • Sporadic instances of manual scavenging —
      • As per the NCSK (2020 data), a total of 631 people have died in the country while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years.
      • Although manual scavenging has been almost eradicated, sporadic instances do occur.
      • In 2018, 29,923 people were engaged in manual scavenging in Uttar Pradesh, making it the highest in any State in India.


What are the challenges faced by NCSK?

  • NCSK does not have any powers and works as a non-statutory body on government resolution.
    • Recently, the government mentioned in the Parliament that there is no such proposal for converting the commission into a statutory body.
  • Due to this, the commission is not able to implement its own orders or directions.
  • The chairperson and members are political appointees, so they do not question the government or speak against their schemes.
  • The commission remains understaffed and many posts remain vacant.
  • The commission itself is running on a temporary basis, the posts in the commission are filled either through deputation or co-terminus basis.