Delhi: Two Brothers Die In Front Of Father, While Cleaning A Sewage Tank In A Mall
August 14th, 2017
Two brothers died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewage tank without a safety gear at Aggarwal Fun City Mall in East Delhi on Sunday afternoon, as reported by The Hindustan Times. Their father, who was helping them clean the sewage tank and a firefighter who was trying to rescue the three, were also hospitalised in a critical condition.
What happened and how
The two brothers, Jahangir, 24 and Izaz, 22, and their father Yusuf, 50, had gone inside the sewage tank and spent some hours cleaning it. When they did not come out, the fire department and police were informed by the people. The brothers lost their consciousness right after they entered the tank in the basement of the mall.
Yusuf had positioned himself at the mouth of the manhole to pull out the muck and sounded the alarm when his sons stopped responding to him and entered the tank to rescue them. Seeing his sons fall face down into the tank, their father climbed down to rescue them, only to fall on his knees after inhaling the poisonous fumes.
The fireman, identified as Mahipal had gone inside the sewer to take a look and rescue the three. But, incidentally, he also inhaled the toxic fumes and collapsed. He lost consciousness and crashed into the wall of the sewage tank, an officer was quoted saying. The other firemen were quick to rescue him.
All the four victims were taken to the Hedgewar Hospital. Jahangir died on the way and Izaz died after some treatment. Conditions of Yusuf and Mahipal are still critical. Police registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the mall’s management authority. A spokesperson, Sunil Jain, from the real estate company owning the mall, Unity Group said that cleaning operations were outsourced to a sanitation firm.
Delhi Water Minister Rajendra Gautam on Saturday formed a panel to look into the alleged negligence by private sewer-cleaning contractors. As reported by the NDTV, he has been quoted saying, “I am making a vigilance committee to monitor such illegal activities. I am shocked to see the courage of these contractors. They don’t fear the law.”
The condition of sewage cleaners
This is the third similar incident within the span of a month. Earlier, three sanitation workers went down inside a pit at Lajpat Nagar. Four workers also lost their lives while cleaning a pit at Ghitorni. The alarming rate at which the deaths are increasing points to the grim reminder of unsafe working conditions of sanitation workers. They often get down without safety gear and are exposed to toxic fumes. Their only tool to measure risk levels is a matchstick lit at the mouth of the sewer to figure out the presence of oxygen and poisonous gases. They go in if the stick burns itself out. More often than not they go in without safety harness and mask to clean these tanks.
The law makes it a criminal offence to make people work in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. There is no national data on such deaths and no criminal cases are registered against offenders.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian condemns manual scavenging. Manual scavenging is modern-day slavery. That it continues in the 21st century India is something that should horrify and outrage us all. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that further deaths due to manual scavenging do not occur. The Prohibition of Manual Scavengers Act should be implemented with more efficiency; the governments at the centre and the states should establish that manual scavenging will not be tolerated and lawbreakers will be punished. Also, alternate means of employment should be generated for the impoverished people who are forced to become manual scavengers due to lack of alternatives means of livelihood. The Logical Indian appeals to the government that if this practice cannot be routed out completely, enough steps should be taken to provide the manual scavengers with a better life of proper rehabilitation and adequate support to the family of the deceased.