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April 5, 2020

Three workers die after choking in the sewer, contractor on the run.

Three workers lost their lives while cleaning a sewer in Noida sector 110, where they were hired by a private contractor to clean an open drain. This is the 15th such case of death from falling into open sewers in the capital, only since July.

A worker choked from toxic gas and fell inside the sewer while he was involved in a cleaning spree, while the other two fell while in an attempt to take him out. The rescue team, including police and firefighters, took three hours to reach the men, as a parallel tunnel had to be dug to take them out. The doctors declared them dead thereafter.

They were not acquired with any protective gear such as masks. This shows the careless attitude of the government and even private contractors, and that no lessons have been learned from past incidents.

In a similar case last month, a worker had died while working in a sewer, following which Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had decided to totally eradicate the practice of manual scavenging (which is banned by law) by bringing into use machines for cleaning sewers.

The government had promised to make it mandatory for people to employ only authorized persons in the regard, and anyone found disregarding the same, or responsible for their death from carelessness would be charged under Section 304 of IPC for culpable homicide.

Even since, there have been cases in the National Capital, including the most recent this Thursday as reported.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had promised immediate action, and to initiate awareness campaigns against manual scavenging, but the result could be seen. Even now, there are hundreds of open drains in the capital and around which await cleaning and covering, or they would take more lives into their trap.

The private contractor who had employed the three workers is absconding, and an inquiry has been initiated by the investigating committee.

The three names, Rajesh, Vikas, and Ravindra reportedly belonged to Jharkhand, and all were in their twenties. Their families have been assured a compensation relief amount of rupees 10 lakh each, but who is accountable for their death?

Although it was the responsibility of the contractor to assure safe environment for the working 3, who were reported as dead on arrival by doctors, the government is highly accountable for their deaths, as authorities did not take any action even after past incidents of death, and no campaigns were initiated, and machinery employed for cleaning of drains, as was promised by the LG and the Chief Minister.

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