3 workers suffocate to death in Lajpat Nagar sewer, 1 critical

Three labourers were asphyxiated while a fourth is battling for life after reportedly inhaling poisonous gases inside a manhole they were cleaning in Lajpat Nagar on Sunday afternoon.

The incident comes less than a month after four men died while cleaning a septic tank in Ghitorni.

“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 Mr. Prasad.

This was around 1 p.m. According to Ram Prasad, a second worker went inside after the first one. He, too, did not come up, after which a third worker went inside. More than an hour had passed by then. The private contractor then came to assess the situation.

Declared brought dead

“They sent the fourth worker, Rajesh. They tied a rope to his body to ensure he came back. He was pulled back when he started becoming dizzy. Our team reached the spot by that time,” said an investigator.

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 Mr. Baaniya.

DJB launches probe

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

Mr. 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 (sic),” 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.

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 Mr. Tiwari.

The party has claimed that as many as 15 DJB employees, or privately hired safai karamcharis, suffocated to death in the last two years while cleaning sewers in the Capital.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 2:08:17 AM |

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