Silicon Valley Shame; Three Men Die While Cleaning Septic Tank In Bengaluru
Three men died of asphyxiation after going down a 12-ft Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in the basement of an apartment complex at Somasundarapalya, HSR Layout, on Sunday.
The deceased identified as Madegowda, Narayanaswamy, who was also the contractor and Srinivas, all aged between 30 to 35 years, were residents of Bandepalya.
The bodies of the three deceased have been kept at the St John’s Hospital for post-mortem.
Last year, on March 7, 2017, three men died in Bengaluru’s CV Raman Nagar due to asphyxiation after they went into a manhole to fix it.
Course of events
On Sunday, the ND Sepal Apartments in Somasundara Palya approached a contractor, Narayanswamy to clean the STP in the apartment complex and also to take care of other civic works. Two of the victims had no experience in clean sewers before. Srinivas, 56, was a painter by profession and Made Gowda, 42, worked as a pest controller at a garment factory.
Narayanswamy promised the other two that the payment would be done on Sunday itself. Hence, they agreed to take up the work even when they did not have experience.
The police say that after question the security guard about the STP, one of them ventured inside it without any protective gear or masks. “We believe that when he did not respond to their calls, the other two ventured into the tank and collapsed soon after,” said a police officer, according to The Hindu.
Sewage tanks are filled with gases like methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide etc. The concentration of methane is comparatively more than the other gases and if inhaled it can be fatal.
Their bodies were recovered after an hour when the security guard went to check on them. They were rushed to St. John’s Medical College, where they were declared brought dead.
“Two personnel who ventured into the tank during the rescue operation also took ill because of the toxic gas even though they were wearing masks. The victims had no protection and should not have been allowed to clean the STP. The apartment complex should have asked civic agencies to clean the STP,” said Basavaraj, a senior Fire Services officer to The Hindu. He added that the association should have supervised the work and provided safety measures.
As the news spread the family members of the deceased gathered in front of the apartment complex and protested against their negligence. They demand clarity as to why were they allowed inside the septic tank without any security gear.
Mayor R. Sampath Raj visited the bereaved families of the three victims at St. John’s hospital here on Sunday and announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh each
The Logical Indian Take
Manual scavenging is banned in India. Any contact between excreta and a labourer employed to unclog a drainage pipe or sewage treatment plant is prohibited by law and the occurrence of such a trespass or the non-provision of safety gear or disinfectants to the labourer will lead to the prosecution of the contractor and the employer – and rightly so.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 provides for the prohibition of employment of people as manual scavengers and the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families. We, as a society are to be blamed for such an incident as even though there are provisions in place which has banned the incident, the practice remains constant.
The Logical Indian hopes that such an inhuman practice is eradicated from the society and that too immediately.