Two suffocate to death while cleaning septic tank in Delhi’s Jasola

Representative Image. 

NEW DELHI : Two people died after falling uncouncious while cleaning the septic tank in southeast Delhi’s Old Jasola Village on Friday. One of the deceased has been identified as Rajprakash Singh (60), resident of Molband Extension. The identity of other deceased is yet to be verified.

According to DCP (South East) Rajesh Deo, at about 1 pm, a PCR call was received about “two men who had fallen into a sewer in Old Jasola Village.” A police team rushed to the scene to find the two deceased trapped in the septic tank.

Preliminary enquiry into the incident revealed that the two persons were hired for cleaning a septic tank on the premises of one Iqbal Singh, resident of Old Jasola Village. While working at the site, both men fell unconsious and died of suffocation on the spot, police said.

Sharing details, the senior officer said the deceased sanitation workers were cleaning the tank with the help of tractor tank, but were not getting results. Twice, the waste was sucked through the pipe into the tractor tank. On the third occasion, both persons entered the septic tank to manually fix a valve that was coming off. On entering the tank, they both fell unconscious, he added.

The fire department was called and both persons were taken out from the septic tank and rushed to the hospital where they were declared brought dead.

The police have launched an investigation and a case is being registered, the DCP said, adding that police is investigating the premises of Ikbal Singh. The facts related to the incident are also being verified.

According to the Government of India data, more than 400 people have died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country between 2018 and 2023. Even after 75 years of Independence, the inhumane practice of manual scavenging persists in our nation, the Supreme Court had gravely noted during a hearing in October 2023.

In 1993, the government enacted the “Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Toilets (Prohibition) Act,” which outlawed the employment of individuals as manual scavengers. In 2013, the government brought the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Rehabilitation Act.

Despite such provisons, manual scavenging persists, with several people dying down in sewer shafts and septic tanks while cleaning without proper security cover.

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