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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Sewer deaths: MC compensates kin, fails to fix responsibility

Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times  Patiala, September 21, 2013
First Published: 11:38 IST(21/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:45 IST(21/9/2013)

Even though the local municipal corporation authorities have successfully pacified families of two labourers, who died while cleaning a choked sewer line, by giving adequate compensation, it has failed to fix the responsibility of any official of the department concerned in the matter.

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The civic body authorities have decided to give compensation of `4 lakh and a government job to one member of each deceased labourer's family.

Narayan Singh (35) and Rahul (19) were asphyxiated to death after they entered a choked sewer line to clean it.

With no FIR registered against anyone, eyebrows are being raised over the lackadaisical attitude of the civic body and local police as well.

Mayor Amarinder Bajaj and commissioner PS Gill reached the mortuary of Government Rajindra Hospital to compensate the family members of the deceased, who were sitting outside the mortuary.

The bereaved families refused to accept compensation of `2 lakh as offered by the authorities. They were demanding `10 lakh besides a government job to one member from each family.

Local leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal and officials held several meetings with both families, following which the protesting kin fell in line.

The authorities claimed that they had decided to postpone the work of clearing sewerage, but question remains that on whose instructions the two labourers go into the sewer line.

The authorities had also failed to bring necessary equipment on the spot.

"Can mere compensation bring my husband back", asked Nirmala Devi, an inconsolable wife of Narayan.

MC commissioner Parminder Singh Gill said an inquiry has been ordered to know the reasons and official responsible for the incident.

"Action will be taken against whosoever is found guilty by the inquiry," he said.

MC ill-equipped

As per information, the labourers who were assigned the job to clean sewer line were not provided with any necessary equipment, including a safety mask, hand gloves or special suits.

Out of eight pumping machines used to clean the sewerage, only one is in the working condition, while other machines are lying unused for the past many months.
Senior officials of the sanitation department said they rarely go for manual cleaning as it is a very risky proposition. "We often use machines to clean the sewerage and take manual help only in case of severe choking," an official said.

Mayor prefers to attend dy CM function

Instead of immediately visiting the spot, mayor Amarinder Bajaj attended a function of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Bajaj only reached the mortuary of the hospital after Sukhbir's function ended at around 2.30pm. He was accompanied with MC commissioner PS Gill and both remained there for half an hour. Earlier, senior officials of the water supply and sanitation department immediately reached the spot to carry out the rescue work.

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