Labourer dies while cleaning pit in Shivajinagar

The site at Ganesh Bagh on Infantry Road where the incident took place on Saturday afternoon.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K.

A 19-year-old labourer died on Saturday while his colleague is battling for life after they inhaled toxic fumes while cleaning a pit inside the premises of a Jain trust on Infantry Road.

The police have booked the manager, trustee and other members of the SSBS Jain Sangh Trust charging them under the SC/ST( Prevention of Atrocities Act), the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, Section 341 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and Section 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.

A member of the trust denied allegations that they were cleaning a septic tank and said the labourers had been contracted to clean a rainwater harvesting pit. However, social activist Narasimhamurthy, who registered a complaint with the Commercial Street police on behalf of the victims, alleged that the pit was clogged with sewage.

The deceased, Siddappa, hailed from Siruguppa in Ballari district. He had moved to Lingarajapuram in Bengaluru and worked as a labourer.

The alleged incident took place around 12.30 p.m. The management of the trust had engaged Muniyanna, 50, to clean the tank. Muniyanna brought Siddappa and another labourer for the job.

“After Siddappa entered the tank, he stopped communicating with the others. Worried, Muniyanna went inside and fell unconscious. The third labourer, with the help of members of the trust, rushed to their aid, and alerted the fire and emergency services,” said the police.

The duo were taken to the nearby Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital where Siddappa was declared dead. Muniyanna is in the ICU. The hospital’s Casualty Medical Officer Keshavamurthy said, “He has suffered pulmonary oedema due to aspiration (when some liquid or food gets into the lungs). He has been put on ventilator.”

Regarding Siddappa, the doctor said the cause of death could be ascertained only after the post-mortem.

The equipment used by the labourers, including a small motor, ladder and plastic ropes, lay near the pit.

Narasimhamurthy, in his complaint, said the trust had engaged untrained labourers to clean the tank without any safety gear.

The police are waiting for the post-mortem report and are questioning the trust members who had labourers. No arrests have been made.

A member, who did not want to be named, said, “The pit is cleaned every six months. Muniyanna approaches the trust directly. We routinely get the pit cleaned. Such a thing has never happened before.”

Reiterating that it was not a septic tank or a manhole, he claimed that the rainwater harvesting pit is covered with a metal grille for better air circulation and to allow water to flow in.

“When one of the labourers fainted inside the pit, another went in to rescue him. We immediately notified the police and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 1:08:28 AM |

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