NHRC notice to T.N. chief secretary, DGP after four workers die while cleaning septic tank

File. , Photo credit: V. Sudershan

The National Human Rights Commission on Friday notified the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, the DGP and a senior citizenship official after four workers suffocated while cleaning a septic tank in Karur district. They have six weeks to respond, the NHRC said.

“The NHRC has suo motu taken note of media reports that three workers died on March 15.

“The Commission has sent communications to the Chief Secretary, the Director-General of Police and Municipality Commissioner Karur asking for reports on the matter. You have six weeks to respond,” the NHRC said in a statement.

The NHRC has asked the chief secretary to provide a report on the accountability measures taken by the authorities that have delegated the task of cleaning the septic tank, as well as details on the compensation and rehabilitation of the deceased’s next of kin, it said.

The NHRC said the report should also include education and awareness camps initiated by the state government to provide safety protections for workers involved in cleaning sewage or septic tanks, and social programs initiated for such sanitation workers or are to be initiated.

“The report of the actions taken must also include the implementation and outcome of the recommendation issued by the NHRC on September 24, 2021 to protect the human rights of a person involved in hazardous clean-ups,” the NHRC said.

DGP asked to report the status of FIR

The Director General of Police has been asked to report on the status of the FIRs filed in this regard.

The commission said the municipal commissioner must produce a report detailing the officer involved in the negligent cause of death by not allowing workers to use safety equipment and protective equipment during the cleanup.

It should also specify the disciplinary action taken against them under applicable service rules, the panel said.

The Commission also stressed that in the case of sanitary or hazardous cleaning work, the municipality and the contractor or employer must be held jointly and severally responsible and liable, regardless of how the sanitation workers are hired.

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