New Delhi: It has been more than seven years since the Supreme Court ordered the abolition of manual scavenging yet sewage workers continue to die. On Monday, two labourers died inside a manhole of a sewage line in Surat, allegedly of asphyxiation after inhaling poisonous gases.
The two deceased have been identified as Monsingh Amaliya (52) and Jayendra Amaliya (25), both residents of Jahangirpura in Surat and natives of Dahod, The Indian Express reported.
Police have registered an offence against the concerned contractor and Surat Municipal Commissioner BN Pani has also set up a team headed by a city engineer to probe the incident.
According to sources in the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), Jogram agency was given a contract by the SMC to undertake repair work of a wall in the storm water drainage line at Machhiwad Circle in Nanpura area. Two labourers entered the manhole to divert the water flow to a nearby sewage line, without any safety equipment. Soon both labourers fell unconscious due to poisonous gases in the dried manhole.
Fire officials were informed about the situation, who began rescue operations at 1 pm. Two firemen entered the manhole and hauled both labourers using ropes. Athwalines police, SMC Central Zone Chief Debashish Basak and other top municipal officials also reached the spot to speak to other labourers.
Both labourers were immediately rushed to New Civil Hospital and SMIMER hospital, respectively, where they were declared dead on arrival, The Indian Express reported.
Anil Amaliya, the son of deceased labourer Monsingh, lodged a police complaint against contractor Jogaram Sen and he was booked under IPC sections 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), the Atrocity Act and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavenger Act.
Surat Municipal Commissioner BN Pani said: “The work of repairing the storm water drainage line was in progress at Machhiwad circle in Nanpura. Due to the flow of water in the storm water line, the contractor faced difficulty in repairing the wall. We are shocked at how the two labourers directly entered the nearby sewerage line, without any safety measures. We have set up an inquiry and it has been given to the city engineer. After a week, we will take further action. We have got machines to clean the sewerage line and are surprised as to why they were not used. We will not spare whosoever is responsible for this incident.”
Athwalines police inspector JP Jadeja said: “We have registered a complaint on the basis of the statements given by other labourers. During investigation, if evidence of other people’s involvement comes out, we will not spare them. The labourers were made to go into the manhole without any safety equipment.”