2 men die while cleaning septic tank in north Delhi’s Rohini

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
May 08, 2019 07:06 AM IST

Three other labourers who entered the septic tank to save the two men fainted but were rescued by locals and other labourers.

Two men were killed and three hospitalised after they were exposed to poisonous fumes while cleaning a septic tank at an under-construction building in Prem Nagar in north-west Delhi’s Rohini neighbourhood on Tuesday afternoon, the police said.

Two labourers died of asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank in Rohini’s Prem Nagar.(Getty Images for representation)
Two labourers died of asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank in Rohini’s Prem Nagar.(Getty Images for representation)

A preliminary investigation showed that the two, who died after inhaling the toxic fumes, entered the tank without safety gear, the police said. They added that the men initially refused to enter the tank, saying they were not trained for the job, but were forced by the owner of the house and a mason who employed them. Three other men, who tried to pull the two out — including the mason — also fell unconscious and were under treatment at a hospital.

Last year, at least 10 workers died in the Capital in such incidents.

According to the police, the incident took place around 1.30pm when 35-year-old Ganesh Saha, along with Deepak Lambu, 30, both contractual workers, went to Bhagya Vihar in Prem Nagar to clean the tank. The three others, identified as Rambir, 37, Sher Singh, 40, and Babloo Kumar, 40, accompanied them.

Deputy commissioner of police (Rohini) SD Mishra said a case had been registered under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 3(J) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and under Section 5/8 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers & Rehabilitation Act.

The house owner was identified as Gulam Mustafa. “A few days ago, he started construction work to complete the building. The house has a 10-feet-deep septic tank. The probe revealed that Mustafa and Rambir, a mason, had forced the labourers to go down in the tank to clean it,” Mishra said.

The DCP said the workers initially refused to clean the tank, but Mustafa and Rambir threatened them that they wouldn’t be paid three days’ wages.

“Local residents told police that while cleaning the tank, Saha and Lambu fell unconscious. Their three friends raised an alarm, called the locals and went inside to pull the two men out. They too fainted in the process,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media. Locals residents then got together and pulled the five men out. “They were taken to a nearby hospital where Saha and Lambu were pronounced dead on arrival. The other three were referred to Sanjay Gandhi hospital for treatment. Babloo’s condition is critical,” the officer cited above said.

Delhi Fire Services was also alerted about the incident. The men had been taken to hospital before the fire fighters arrived. A crime and forensics team also visited the site.

The bodies of the two men who died were sent for a post-mortem examination and their families were informed.

DCP Mishra said the police was informed about the incident at 2 pm. Local residents told reporters that the house owner had delayed pulling out the bodies of the two workers, because of which they died.

In September, six workers were killed while cleaning sewage tanks in west Delhi. In April last year, three workers died while cleaning a sewage treatment plant at a hotel in Delhi’s Khan Market.

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