As many as seven people died in Gujarat's Vadodara while cleaning a septic tank on Friday, June 14. As per reports, they suffocated to death while cleaning the septic tank outside a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi taluk. The victims include four sanitation workers and three hotel employees.
As per reports in The Times of India, Hassan Abbas Bhoraniya, the owner of the Darshan Hotel, located 30 kilometres from Vadodara city, has been booked under charges of culpable homicide and causing death due to negligence. The case was registered at the Dabhoi Police station.
"All seven were dead as the pressure of gas was high in the tank, but could bring their bodies out," the Times of India reported Nikunj Azad of the Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services as saying.
The seven victims have been identified as Ashok Harijan (45), Mahesh Harijan (25), Mahesh Patanwadiya (47), Vijay Chaudhary (22), Brijesh Harijan (23), Ajay Vasava (22) and Sahdev Vasava (22). Patanwadiya, Ashok, Brijesh and Mahesh had been called to clean the septic tank, Chaudhary, Sahdev and Ajay were employees of hotel and were assisting the four, according to The Times of India.
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According to reports, Patanwadiya went in first followed by Ashok, Brijesh and then Mahesh. When they did not come out after several hours, the other three went inside to look for them but they too lost consciousness, the police said.
"When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation," said district collector Kiran Zaveri. Officers added that the Dabhoi municipality and local police were informed after all seven did not respond from inside the septic tank. The municipality, lacking the necessary equipment, sought help from the Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services. After the bodies were taken out of the tank, a suction tank vehicle of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation cleaned the tank.
Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) told NewsClick that the much hyped “Gujarat Model” is a complete sham and that the PM must break his silence on the increasing number of incidents of sewerage deaths . “The highest number of sewerage deaths take place in Gujarat and the Prime Minister has not spoken about this at all. It is not how a democratically elected Prime Minister should act. He must break his silence. It is a deep rooted caste problem and our team has gone to look into the matter,” he said.
Expressing outrage at the incident, dalit activist and Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani tweeted: "This government will spend ₹ 3,000 crores on a statue, but won’t invest in machines to end manual scavenging. The 7 people who lost their lives while cleaning drains in Vadodara, could have been saved has this government got its priorities right."
Also read: Plight of Sanitation Workers in Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat’