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WB: Two Manual Scavenging Deaths in a Nursing Home in Hooghly, Two Injured

The incident occurred in the Nabapalli area of Arambagh police station in Hooghly district on Sunday as the workers were working in the septic tank of an under-construction nursing home.

Two workers died while working in the septic tank of a nursing home under construction. The incident occurred in the Nabapalli area of Arambagh police station in Hooghly district on Sunday, June 26. Police recovered two bodies and sent them for autopsy. Two more workers were rescued and hospitalised.

According to the police and locals, the construction of a nursing home was underway in the Nabpalli area. A few workers came to work on the septic tank at the nursing home on Sunday. At first, a worker got inside the tank. But he did not return for a long time. Then another worker went down, who also didn't come out. Two more workers went down to search for the other two. They also didn't return.

This incident caused a stir in the whole area. Residents and other workers rescued the four from the tank and sent them to Arambagh Sub-Divisional Hospital, where doctors declared two dead. The other two are undergoing treatment. The two dead workers were identified as Hanif Khan and Raghunath Roy, police said. Roy is a resident of Sekendarpur in Khanakul, Hooghly. Khan's home is in Baital, Bankura.

The workers are believed to have died due to the toxic gas in the septic tank. The victims' families and other workers have accused the nursing home authorities of negligence in the tragic incident. They complained that no expert or firefighter had been consulted before. They claim that if proper action had been taken at the time, such a tragic incident would not have happened.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has expressed its condolences over the incident. Tarun Ghosh, Hooghly district secretary of the CITU-affiliated Construction Workers' Union, said, "We have approached the state government several times to demand protection of the minimum status and rights of workers as the type of their work is risky. But the government is completely indifferent."

"The current government wants to give up the social security system. Social security funds are being diverted to other sectors. That's why construction workers are being deprived of the minimum opportunity for social security," Ghosh further said.

Arambagh police have launched an investigation into the incident. They are investigating the exact cause of the deaths of workers.

Earlier, in response to a question from BJP MP Mahesh Poddar in the Rajya Sabha on April 8 this year, Union minister Virendra Kumar said in a written reply that there had been no deaths in manual scavenging in the last three years.

However, 161 people died while cleaning septic tanks and underground drains. Tamil Nadu is at the top of the list among states with manual scavenging incidents, with 27 deaths, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 26.

The Union minister further said that according to the data obtained from two surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016, a total of 58,098 such persons had been found in the country. That number is highest in Uttar Pradesh.

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