Two Workers Die Of Suffocation While Cleaning Septic Tank In Chennai, Case Registered Against Employer
Two workers cleaning a septic tank at a gated community in Chennai’s Perungudi area on June 29 died of asphyxiation from inhaling toxic gases. The workers were identified as D Dhatchanamoorthy and P Periyasamy, both 38 years old and from Pallikaranai.
The incident has brought the death toll from manual scavengers in Chennai to 4 in one day, India Today reports.
Victims have been employed for the past five years
Both Periyasamy and Dhatchanamoorthy, employees of a cleaning company in the Thoraipakkam area, have been regularly given the job of cleaning the septic tank at the gaming community in Kamaraj Nagar, Perungudi for the past five years.
According to police, they used to empty the tanks with trucks and then climbed inside to clean them, The New Indian Express reported.
Police added that they started cleaning the septic tanks attached to each building at 1pm on Wednesday, adding that “at 6:30pm another tank was opened. They had decided to save a day after cleaning that tank.”
Periyasamy had opened the tank, which was 20 feet deep, and passed out upon entering it. Dhatchanamoorthy had not noticed his fainting, and he also fainted upon entering the tank.
The supervisor of the private cleaning company, Saravanan, informed the manager and secretary of the condominium, who in turn called the fire brigade. Personnel arrived and rescued the bodies of Periyasamy and Dhatchanamoorthy. They were taken to hospital but Periyasamy succumbed in the ambulance and Dhatchanamoorthy died at 8:30pm.
Cases registered against the employer
The incident once again brought to light how neglected and endangered manual scavengers are. Thoraipakkam Police arrested S. Saravanan, the manager of the cleaning company, and S. Krishnan, the secretary of the gated community, and registered a case under IPC sections 304A, relating to death by negligence, 336, relating to negligence, endangering human lives, plus the ban on manual scavenger employment and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
Photos from the crime scene also showed that they were also not wearing protective gear. This brings the total to 4 men who have died manually cleaning up in Chennai in the past 24 hours.
Manual cleaning in India
Manual cleaning has already claimed too many lives because there are no regulations, no guidelines, and no resources or protective equipment for the people who need to do it. Normally, lower-caste people are given the job of cleaning underground tanks, nor are they afforded any protection, with nearly 161 deaths from “accidents cleaning septic tanks” in three years, according to government figures, although the real number could be much higher , and the majority of them, almost 27, are from Tamil Nadu, Hindustan Times reports.
The center told the Lok Sabha in December 2021 that 321 people have died from cleaning sewers in the past five years and over 58,000 manual scavengers have been identified in India at the time, as reported by Scroll.
Also Read: Anthrax Outbreak Reported in Athirappilly Forest in Kerela, Government Takes Decisive Measures to Stop Spread