Contractor denied 'costly' safety gear to sewer cleaners, DM's report states

3 sanitation workers had died after inhaling noxious fumes in a manhole in Lajpat Nagar last month

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Contractor denied 'costly' safety gear to sewer cleaners, DM's report states
The three corporations — East, South and North — have around 2,500 sewer cleaners.


The three sanitation workers who choked to death inside a manhole in Lajpat Nagar last month were not provided with safety gear by their contractor, a status report filed by the southeast District Magistrate, submitted in the Delhi High Court (HC) on Monday, stated. Reportedly, the contractor had said that the equipment was expensive.

"The workers asked the contractor to provide the safety gear before lowering into the manhole but he refused, saying that the equipment was costly, and ordered the workers to carry on with the work without any gear," the report stated.

On August 6, Joginder, Anu, and Monu had died while cleaning a manhole near the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's (MCD) office, opposite Sant Kabir Ram Mandir in Lajpat Nagar.

Following this, an FIR was registered against the contractor under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, which prohibits the entry of humans into drains and tanks, except in an emergency. In that case as well, the law directs the employer to provide safety gear to workers.

Commenting on the matter, a senior Delhi Jal Board (DJB) official said: "Cost is not a factor. Contractors are supposed to give safety gear to workers, since the government is paying them for the job. In this particular case, however, the contractor was not employed by us and he was absconding. Also, investigators have to establish on whose directions was this contractor getting the sewer cleaned."

Meanwhile, to prevent such incidents in future, Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal had directed the Delhi government and the DJB to ensure 100 per cent mechanisation of sewage cleaning and a blanket ban on manual scavenging.

The three corporations — East, South and North — have around 2,500 sewer cleaners. The corporation pays Rs 15,000-20,000 to its permanent workers, even as no health benefits are given to them. The law, however, mandates the use of machinery to clean drains, sewers, and tanks. The civic bodies hire cheap manual labourers through contractors and they are paid Rs 250-300 a day.

2 die in sewer

Two devotees of the jailed godman Rampal died on Monday after getting into a sewer at Rampal's ashram in outer Delhi's Mundka. Police said two other men were also affected by poisonous fumes while they tried to rescue the victims. The deceased were identified as Amarjeet, 30, and Makhan Lal, 27. Police have registered a case of causing death due to negligence. DCP (outer) Pankaj Singh said the men choked due to toxic gases and appropriate action in the case is being taken.

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