The Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan initiated a march “Maila Mukti Yatra” (National Peoples March for Total Eradication of Manual Scavenging) beginning from Bhopal on November 30, 2012 and culminated in New Delhi on 31st January 2013 with the resolution -“The slavery of manual scavenging is against dignity,humanity and human rights. We will eradicate this slavery anyhow.” Covering over 10,000 kilometres through 200 districts of 18 states The March successfully mobilized 50,000 manual scavengers to stop the practice.
In the concluding ceremony held in New Delhi, thousands of Dalit women who had stopped working as manual scavengers took a firm decision to bring an end to this practice. Ministers from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development and a representative from the Planning Commission of India expressed their commitment towards passing a new legislation and announced several provisions for rehabilitation at the ceremony. Country representatives of the UNFPA, ILO, and the United Nations also committed to work towards eradicating the practice of manual scavenging.
The event was also successful in bringing together chairpersons of the National Commission for Safai Karmcharis and the Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industries who stressed on the importance of rehabilitation and skill development to enable manual scavengers undertake alternate sources of employment.
Civil society showed strong support to the cause by ensuring their presence in large numbers at the event. Representatives from the Association for Voluntary Action, Dalit Alliance, Andhra Pradesh; Jai Bharat, Andhra Pradesh; Navsarjan Trust, Gujarat; Ahil Bharti Safai Majdur Sangh, Jharkhand and NAMHHR expressed their solidarity. Former member of the National Advisory Council, Mr. Harsh Mander, said “No human is born to perform the act of scavenging and getting forced to adopt it as a profession. Women associated with the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan have shown the courage of changing this complex social system, and this courage will activate the process of social transformation.”