Tarn Taran, April 30
Two safai karamcharis were asphyxiated to death while cleaning a manhole in Patti today. Both were not wearing any protective gear.
The deceased have been identified as Aman Kumar (35) and Prem Kumar Kaka (29) of Patti.
As soon as they entered the manhole, they fell unconscious. Their co-workers took them out with the help of ropes. They were admitted to a local hospital, where doctors declared them brought dead.
Balwant Rai, president of the Safai Sewaks’ Union, Patti, said a contractor had hired Aman and Prem. They had been working for the Municipal Council for more than 10 years.
The postmortem was performed at the Civil Hospital. The police lodged a report under Section 174 of the CrPC.
All employees of the Patti MC decided to give their day’s salary to the families of the deceased. Patti MLA Harminder Singh Gill MLA, who visited the bereaved families, said the administration would give ex gratia grant of Rs25,000 each to the families.
Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who was in the town when the incident took, did not visit the victims’ families. This enraged residents.
No lessons learnt
- Two workers had died after inhaling poisonous gases in a manhole at Mehraj in Rampura (Bathinda) on March 18. Both were working without safety kits.
- One of them was repairing a pipe of a motor installed inside a 25-ft-deep manhole. When he had fallen unconscious, another worker had tried to pull him out, but he too fainted. Later, Jagdish Singh (40) and Ravi (25) were declared dead.
- In Ludhiana, two persons had lost their lives while cleaning a choked sewer line on September 16 last year. The deceased were identifed as Sonu (25) and Mehar Singh (42).
- The Prohibition of Manual Scavenging Act prohibits “hazardous cleaning” of a sewer or septic tank, unless the employer provides protective gear.
- In 2014, the SC ordered: “For each such (sewer) death, compensation of Rs 10 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased.”
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