Bhopal: In a horrific incident, three sanitisation workers were suffocated to death inside a sewage chamber in Madhya Pradesh's Singrauli district on Friday evening.
According to the police, the incident took place at Kachni village in Waidhan area on Friday afternoon when an underground sewage tank was being repaired by a Delhi-based company KK Spun Private Limited. The Municipal Corporation had hired the company to repair and clean the sewage.
"The deceased, Kanhaiyalal Yadav (35) and Indrabhan Singh (24), entered the tank but immediately fainted. Minutes after, the private contractor who employed them allegedly forced Nagendra Rajak (30), another worker, to climb down into the tank, but he too passed out after inhaling the toxic gases," said Singrauli Superintendent of Police, Virendra Kumar Singh.
When all three workers fainted inside the sewage tank, police were called in, and the three were pulled out with the help of the State Disaster Response Force and Central Industrial Security Force. They were rushed to a hospital, where they were declared brought dead. The cause of death was apparently asphyxiation and inhaling poisonous gas, the SP said, adding that autopsy reports were awaited.
A case under Indian Penal Code's (IPC) Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) was registered against site engineer Uttam Kumar and supervisor Salauddin Khan and others at the Waidhan Police station.
Further, Singrauli Collector Rajeev Ranjan Meena also confirmed that the trio died owing to the negligence of the company officials who were booked under the relevant sections of the IPC. "I will ensure that the families of the deceased get all the benefits and ex-gratia outlined in the laid down laws and I have ordered strict action against the company which is solely responsible for the deaths."
Manual scavenging is banned in India under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act 2013. However, with deficient implementation of the law, the dangerous practice, mainly involving people from Dalit sub-castes, still continues across the country. Further, sanitation workers are often not provided with mandatory safety gear leading to them being injured or dying due to toxic fumes inside manholes or septic tanks.