In yet another case of lack of protective gear leading to fatality, three manual scavengers lost their lives reportedly while cleaning a septic tank at a textile factory in Pilkhuwa of Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh.
According to reports, the incident took place on Friday afternoon at GS Das factory near Textile City Centre where dozens of workers are employed, but the manager of the factory had reportedly hired a few workers from Hapur city to clean the plant and septic tank.
The deceased have been identified as Ravi, Tara Shankar and Jitendra. One Yusuf got injured while reportedly saving the three workers, and was later shifted to the district hospital.
"Three labourers died after entering a septic tank in a factory today. Some labourers went down a tank to remove the byproduct of a colour plant in GS Das factory, a labourer fell unconscious, two others went down to save him. All three of them drowned. We will recommend magistrate inquiry and will ask to take action against illegal factories running in the state," Hapur police told the local media.
A local told NewsClick that these workers were hired by a private contractor to remove the byproduct of the colour factory. Local police officials, who rushed to the spot later, confirmed that all the three workers died inside the septic tank. Police are still investigating to find out whether these workers were provided any protective gear at the time of cleaning the tank or not.
Dharmendra Singh, SHO, Pilkhuwa, told NewsClick, "A case has been filed against the factory manager based on a complaint by a victim's wife and the probe is going on These three laborers were from Sultanpur, Jaunpur and Hapur."
Despite the high number of deaths of sanitation workers due to lack of required protective gear, the trend has remained unchanged. This is the second case of sanitation workers’ deaths in less than a month in Uttar Pradesh. Last month in Kanpur, two sanitation workers suffocated to death while cleaning a sewage chamber on the request of Kanpur Municipal Corporation (KMC) under the Namami Gange project. The daily wage sanitation workers had been employed by a contractor to clean the sewage and they went inside without any protective gear.
Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) said, "It has become a routine thing in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. We are trying to collect full information about this incident and then we can take legal action against the factory. Nobody is taking any action against the contractors that's why this is happening on a daily basis, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, we are writing a letter to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), chief minister and governor and we are going to organist a programme in Lucknow regarding the deaths of sanitation workers."
Meanwhile, during the Monsoon session, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale informed the Parliament that in the last three years, 88 people have lost their lives in the septic tanks. However, the fact is that 88 people have lost their lives in the last one year itself and they continue to suffer.
Also watch: Sweeping Sanitation Workers’ Issues Under the Rug