Three sanitation workers in their 20s suffocated to death inside a narrow sewerage line in Noida on Thursday afternoon.
None of the workers was equipped with masks or any other safety gear, showing no lessons have been learnt from the spate of tragedies in Delhi.
In a replay of recent tragedies in Delhi, three sanitation workers in their 20s suffocated to death inside a narrow sewerage line in Noida on Thursday afternoon. All three were engaged by a private contractor of the Noida Authority.
It took a rescue team three hours to reach the trapped men because the manhole leading to the sewer line was too narrow and a parallel channel had to be dug using earthmovers. Doctors at the district hospital said the three were brought dead.
None of the workers was equipped with masks or any other safety gear, showing no lessons have been learnt from the spate of tragedies in Delhi, where 12 people have died since July while cleaning sewers. Manual scavenging is banned by law but continues nevertheless.
Eyewitnesses said Rajesh, 28, Vikas, 24, and Ravindra, 25, were clearing a blocked line when one of them choked on toxic gas and fell inside the pit. “The second worker went in to rescue him. He also got trapped. Then the third man entered the line and he too couldn’t get out,” said Suneel Mishra, a local resident.
Fearing the worst, a large crowd gathered there to attempt a rescue, joined by a group of sanitation workers. Police were called around 3.30pm. Eventually, a parallel channel was dug to get to the trapped trio with the help of firefighters and an earthmover. It was around 6.30pm that the rescue party managed to pull the three workers out.
Akhilesh Tripathi, emergency medical officer at the district hospital, said two of the workers were brought in at 6.46pm and 6.48 pm and the third (who was taken in a different ambulance) at 7.10pm. “We examined the victims in the emergency and found they were lifeless. They were declared brought dead,” Tripathi said. He said prima facie it seemed toxic gases had choked the three. The autopsy report is awaited.
Shahwez Khan, station officer, Phase 2 police station, said the workers were employed by a contractor, Somveer, who is absconding. District magistrate B N Singh said he had asked Noida Authority to start an inquiry.
Alok Tandon, chairperson and CEO, Noida Authority, said he had ordered a probe that will be conducted by officer on special duty Rajesh Kumar Singh. “He has been asked to conduct a detailed inquiry and submit a report within a week,” Tandon said. Tandon announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the families the three men, all of whom were from Jharkhand. The deputy labour commissioner will conduct a separate inquiry.