Photography, Report

Through the lens : MCRC Student showing you the bleak reality of ‘Life under the Gutter’

Life Under the Gutter

The stench of manholes steaming up in the lanes of Taimoor Nagar has a man under it cleaning, a devastated truth of India, he is Uttam, a human scavenger.
Human Scavenging is completely Banned in India under the “The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’’  this caste-based practice is still rampantly prevalent in the national capital and as well in other parts of the Country.

Like Uttam, many other Human Scavengers open their eyes, huddle up their sun-protective gear and move on the call of Private Contractors to clean the manholes, clogs, without any proper safety gear at their ends. There are 1.8 Lakhs households that earned their bread through scavenging. In the last decade 1,340 deaths have happened across the country due to human scavenging, however, the official Government data records no such deaths. To rehabilitate them in 2014-15 the Government of India allotted a fund of ₹ 448 crores, none was spent until July 2014

Besides the law formulated by the Government of India the men are being forced to go down the gutter and clean the filth, does it make us civilized as a society? People must understand no matter what it is not acceptable to send down a person to clean up a blocked drain or manhole. It is inhumane to exploit another human to serve another person in this way. It is a modern slavery and must be abolished.

While documenting the lives of Human Scavengers I have talked to various men engaged in this job. Their devastated state and their stories have moved me deeply, the accounts they have narrated and the miseries they go through they receive a very little amount and at times, they are not even paid.

With this Photo Feature, I have tried to highlight the problems of these workers and I hope they get justice and sooner a better employment.

~Mohammad Wazid
Jamia Millia Islamia


LUG -1
When the lid is removed, a strong stench of Methane is released.
LUG - 4
Before getting down all the labour involved in the task takes a strong dose of the Marijuana
LUG - 6
They try to open the blockage with the help of Bamboo Stick, when it fails, they have to go down psychically.
LUG - 8
The task is undoubtedly difficult, it is their courage and needs, in absence of better employment opportunities.
LUG - 9
While the MCD worker watched, the private human scavengers cleared the blockage by physically going down.
LUG - 11
With a heavy dose of alcohol, they don’t feel the stench of the gutter.
LUG - 12
Uttam an older worker goes down in the sewer with utmost ease – isn’t he a human?
LUG - 14
The man who spent his entire life cleaning the gutter.
LUG - 15
A job so inhumane pays the bills of several lakhs households in India.
LUG - 22
The question is even after the ban on why Aman is cleaning the gutter? Until when this will fail to gain our attention?
LUG - 17
To that place, nobody would want to step down a human scavenger unclogs the path.
LUG - 20
Work under Process- Lives of Human Scavengers under the danger
LUG - 21
The shadows of the past haunting the upcoming generation.

One thought on “Life Under the Gutter”

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