Published On : Mon, Aug 7th, 2017

Three more martyred to the cause of our sanitation

Nagpur Today had reported in a story two Sundays ago about how over 1500 men have died cleaning our sewers in two years.

This is a greater number of deaths than soldiers we lose in skirmishes and cross firing on our borders – but what do we care?

Three more men have died in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, yesterday, the seat of our National government and a supposedly very ‘pro active’ state government.

And you know what the point most full of pathos is?
Two men died and a third is critically sick when they went down to ‘rescue’ one of their colleagues who was probably already dead by then. They could see his inanimate body lying inside the gutter, yet two more risked – and lost, their lives too in trying to get him out.

A fourth one was still sent in even after all this! The Contractor, who had arrived by then, took the precaution of tying this one with rope so he could be pulled out , alive. He was also half dead when they pulled him out. His condition is critical and he may not survive either.

So no one was ‘saved’ – but 3 more endangered their lives for the first one lost.
But what are our slumbering ‘leaders’ doing about saving people from our ‘Killer gutters?’

Are they even asking themselves, why 70 years after independence, we are stills sending human beings down in Methane infested, dark and dangerous gutters where even rats do not survive!

This incident comes less than a month after four men died while cleaning a septic tank in Ghitorni, also a part of Delhi.

According to report in Hindu daily:
“Joginder (32), Annu (28) and a 25-year-old man, who is yet to be identified, were declared brought dead at AIIMS,” said DCP (South-East) Romil Baaniya.

Eyewitness account
Like other similar deaths reported earlier, the men weren’t wearing protective gear when they entered the sewer line on Jal Vihar Road opposite Ram mandir.

Eyewitnesses said that except the first worker, the others died during successive rescue attempts.

Ram Prasad, a rickshaw puller who was among the eyewitnesses, said, “I was going to buy paan when I saw a group of 10 to 12 men standing around a sewer opposite the MCD office. They had gathered to rescue a man who was lying unconscious inside the sewer line. I peeped into the open hole and could see him, but there was no movement,” said Prasad.

It was ultimately police and fire brigade vehicles then fished the other men out of the sewer and sent them to AIIMS, where three of them were declared brought dead. The fourth is said to be critical.

Case registered
While one of the victims is said to be from Khichripur, the police are trying to gather details about the other three.

“The three men died as they were exposed to poisonous gases. We have taken legal action and registered a case under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC,” said Baaniya.

DJB launches probe
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB), too, has launched an inquiry, said DJB chairman Rajendra Gautam.

Gautam took to Twitter on Sunday to express his condolences and the action taken. “I am very sad to know that 3 workers are expired during cleaning of sewer at Lajpat Nagar I have set up an inquiry ,” he said in one of his tweets.

“It is learnt that workers were neither employee of DJB nor authorised by DJB,” he said in another tweet.

What is the fall out of these new deaths?
Instead of taking up the issue in all urgency to prevent more such tragic and needless deaths, our politicians are using it to target one another!

BJP attacks city govt
The Delhi BJP, meanwhile, attacked the city government with State president Manoj Tiwari urging the Lieutenant- Governor to order a high-level probe into the incident. “They are reported to have been privately hired by the Junior Engineer of Delhi Jal Board on Sunday. It is being said that the Jal Board officials did not ensure compliance of safety measures before starting cleaning work,” said Tiwari.

We, at Nagpur Today feel enough is enough! If we are serious about saving further lives lost this way, let Contractors who send down people like this to their sure death be tried for Murder, in the first degree!

Or better still, just for ONCE, let us send down the Contractor and Municipal Corporation officials in the gutter to ‘ see how it feels’.

If they remain alive to tell the story, that is.
There are thousands of men, who haven’t.

Remained Alive.

Sunita Mudaliar
Executive Editor