Ten days after a contract labourer died of asphyxia after he inhaled poisonous methane fumes inside an underground storm water drain at Tardeo, a 22-year-old labourer died while laying a drain pipe at Wadala.
On Monday, Mohammad Mushtaq Sheikh was working inside the underground drain, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority at Antop Hill, when the water level in the drain began to increase and he drowned.
“His body was fished out by the fire brigade and taken to Sion hospital,” said an Mhada official on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
According to the fire officials who were at the site, Sheikh was not wearing a mask or carrying any safety equipment.
Following complaints from human rights associations and several litigations, the Bombay high court had issued guidelines for safeguarding the rights of the manhole and sewage workers. However, these guidelines are often violated because the municipal corporation does not check if contractors are giving the workers safety gear and equipment. Around 25 manhole workers die every month in Mumbai.
There are around 350 deaths per year among the 22,000 permanent sanitation workers in the municipal corporation.