In the wake of the recent death of sewer man Surinder Kumar in the absence of proper safety measures, the Municipal Corporation's (MC) tall claims of providing protection kits to sewer men have fallen flat. Sewer men claimed that no protection kits were being provided to them for safety.
“I have never been given any safety mask and gloves when I went into a sewer manhole. Without the safety mask, the sewer waste goes into my mouth. We often get diseases, which can be fatal, but who cares? Only a safety belt is provided to us,” a sewer man claimed.
Supporting the claims of sewer men, councilor of ward number 50, Kapil Kumar said, “I have never seen any protection kit being used by any sewer man as the officials have failed to provide them. They should pay attention to the working conditions of these men and how they put their lives in danger. A few years ago, some samples of safety kits were brought by the officials but were never provided to all sewer men.”
Sharing the harmful effects of working in a sewer, a chemistry lecturer Varinder Pathak, said, “Carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Sulphur dioxide, Nitrous Oxide and Phosgene gases are common in a sewer. Due to presence of these gases, a person can get unconscious and even die. Safety masks should be worn every time before entering into a manhole.”
Meanwhile, Manjeet Singh, MC superintending engineer, claimed that every sub-divisional officer (SDO) has protection kits from gases and it was the sewer men who refused to wear them.
MC commissioner Rahul Tewari directed the concerned officials to not allow sewer men to enter into a manhole without safety kits. He claimed that they have 1,000 safety belts and 150 safety kits including gloves.
Another MC official said, “Lightweight kits should be provided for the safety of sewer men. The masks and gloves should be disposable or should at least be sterilised after every use.”
Deceased's kin block traffic
Some sewer men, kin of the deceased Surinder Kumar, and members of Bhartiya Valmiki Sewa Dal (BVSD) staged a protest by blocking the traffic for about 15 minutes on the Jagraon bridge, here on Monday. The protestors raised slogans against the mayor, MC commissioner and state government.
BVSD president Surinder Kalyan demanded that the officer responsible for Kumar's death be arrested. The police registered a case under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for causing death by negligence against the junior engineer (JE) and SDO of the area on Sunday.