UP: Not Provided With Safety Equipment, Another Sanitation Worker Dies Cleaning a Sewer
Lucknow: In yet another incident of death of a sanitation worker, a 28-year old working as a contractual sanitation employee, working under a private contractor of the Bareilly Municipal Corporation, allegedly died Tuesday after stepping into a sewer to clean it.
According to the police, the victim, Rajeev, who lived in Katra Chand Khan area of Bareilly district, was sent inside a sewage line in the Harunagla area allegedly without any gear or safety equipment.
Tension prevailed on the premises of the municipal corporation as hundreds of sanitation workers employed on a contract basis went on a strike on Wednesday, seeking action against the contractor and demanding compensation to the deceased family.
Protesting at the premises, the union raised the issue of inadequate supply of safety equipment for cleaning the sewerage tanks. “We have been demanding masks and gloves for many years now, but no one pays attention to it. Earlier last month also, four of the workers had died after inhaling poisonous gas from a manhole,” said Arjun Gautam, president of Safai Karamchari Union.
Rajeev was hired by a contractor named Ratan Singh to clean the sewer line as 226 small, and big drains in the municipal limits are being cleaned while 23 drains are being cleaned on a contract basis. The deceased was hired on a contract basis to clean the sewer. On Monday morning, the contractor took him to work. While cleaning in front of Gulabbari crematorium, he drowned in the drain after he slipped. He pulled it out of the drain with the help of the other labourers working there. But until a lot of dirty water went into his lungs.
His brother Ravi Kumar said that he was immediately admitted to the nearest hospital. When his condition did not improve, he was referred to a private hospital in Bhojipura. Rajiv died late in the night on the way to the hospital.
However, the contractor denied the allegation and claimed the employee had been fired four days ago since he was already ill and used to drink alcohol a lot.
Meanwhile, the deceased wife, Sangeeta, accused the contractor. She said, “I have lost my husband because of the contractor’s carelessness. We live in a 10×10 room, and I cannot even afford the rent now. My 6-year-old daughter started school last month. Our future is in jeopardy now,” an inconsolable Sangeeta said, adding that “Had the safety kit been provided by the contractor, perhaps Raju’s (Rajeev’s) life would have been saved.”
The relatives of the deceased have filed a complaint against the contractor in the Baradari police station and held the contractor responsible for the death.
The Valmiki Dharma Samaj of India officials expressed their indignation at the municipal authorities for not taking any cognizance. The union has demanded a government job and a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for one person in the deceased’s family.
The incidents come just a week after a person died due to asphyxiation when he, along with his two colleagues entered a sewage treatment plant in the Siyana area of Bulandshahr district. Last month, four sanitation workers were killed in separate incidents after they allegedly inhaled toxic gases while cleaning sewers in Lucknow and Rae Bareli.
The deaths have brought to the fore the appalling disregard for safety norms for sanitation workers.
Commenting on the continued deaths of sanitation workers due to a lack of safety equipment in the state, Raja Valmiki, who has worked for three decades as a sanitation worker in Lucknow, said, “According to the rule, it is strictly forbidden to take sanitation workers in the sewer line. The rule of cleaning is only by machine. But, even today, they are being forced to go inside the sewer line without any protection and equipment.”
Valmiki added that “A provision has been made in the Act to provide 48 types of safety resources to the safai karamcharis, in which there are air compressors for the blower, gas mask, oxygen cylinder, hand gloves etc., but nothing is being provided to them, leading to deaths.”
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