Delhi: Four men lost their lives by inhaling toxic gases at DLF Capital Greens Apartment in Moti Nagar while cleaning a sewer tank under inhuman conditions. The four were allegedly forced to go into the septic tank without any safety gear and fell unconscious.
The laborers namely Vishal, Umesh, Raja, Pankaj, and Sarfaraz were sent to clean the tank on Sunday around 3 pm.
Sarfaraz and Pankaj entered the tank first and after they stopped responding, Raja and Umesh were sent in to look for them. Thereafter, Vishal was asked to go in and before he fell unconscious he was heard yelling for help, confirmed the police.
According to a report by TOI, DCP Monika Bhardwaj said, “Four men were brought dead to the hospital while the fifth was referred to the RML hospital. We will take action against the contractor or the person who allowed them to climb into the tank.”
Around 9 pm, a 200-strong crowd gathered at the gates of the high rise society protesting against the incident, and demanding answers.
In the middle of the crowd was Sarfaraz’s father, Mohammad Hayyul, demanding justice for his 19-year-old son. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “He had a housekeeping job in the tower. The contractor will have to answer why he entered the sewage treatment plant. He was my only son.”
The boy joined the respective work for an Rs. 9000 pay every month. While the protest was on here, another family at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, was in shock and pain seeing their child Vishal, who had promised his parents a “life free of all worries” in the next two years losing the battle of life.
According to Kapil Kumar, one of the workers who was allegedly instructed to get into septic tank, the workers were housekeeping staff from three different firms. “Cleaning the sewage treatment plant is not a part of my duty. When I objected, I was told not to report for duty anymore,” alleged Kapil.
“Our father is an electrician, so you can imagine the financial condition of our family. Vishal had promised to change all that and tried to support the family while pursuing graduation,” Angad who is the elder brother of Vishal, said.
A few months back, a similar incident happened in Hyderabad where two daily wage laborers died while cleaning a manhole.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 or M.S. Act 2013 prohibits the employment of manual scavengers and the hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.