The death of two labourers and a third one battling for life while cleaning a septic tank at Vedach village in Gujarat's Bharuch district has, once again, hinted at the failure on the implementation of strict provisions to end the hazardous practice of manual scavenging in India.
The labourers were reportedly exposed to a toxic gas while cleaning the tank on Monday, April 5.
"The incident occurred in the morning when three labourers were segregating solid waste from the liquid inside the tank. They fell unconscious due to the sudden discharge of toxic gas. They were rushed to a nearby hospital in Jambusar in an ambulance," said Inspector BR Patel, Vedach Police Station, reported Hindustan Times.
32-year-old Dharmendra Singh and 26-year-old Vivek Pangade were declared dead by doctors while they were hurriedly brought to the hospital. Meanwhile, another labourer, Dinesh Chauhan, has been referred to a hospital in Vadodara for treatment.
The officer said that further investigation is underway.
Earlier in the month, two men died due to asphyxiation while cleaning the septic tank at a banquet hall in east Delhi's Patparganj industrial area.
Notably, as many as 340 people had died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last five years. The number was derived from the reports presented by the state and union territories up to December last year.
The law prohibits anyone from stepping inside a septic tank for cleaning purposes as it contains high amounts of toxic gases. The rules mandated by the central government permits such entry only in case of emergencies and only when equipped with safety gear. However, the reality is in stark contrast to the policies.
To make ends meet, people from marginalised communities are forced to take up such dangerous tasks, who in the absence of adequate precautions and training lose their lives.