Chennai

Man dies while cleaning a septic tank

A 29-year-man got asphyxiated and another was rendered critical while cleaning a septic tank at a house in Injambakkam in Neelankarai police station limits on Sunday.

Rajan, 65, a resident of Seshadri Avenue, Injambakkam, called Anbumani, owner of a suction truck, to clean the septic tank at his house. The truck, driven by Muthukumar, 30, and with cleaner Dravida Kathiravan, 29, reached the spot. The two removed the sewage from the tank till a depth of 10 feet and then Kathiravan got into the tank. Within a few minutes, he fainted. Mr. Muthukumar, who went to his rescue, also became unconscious. Mr. Rajan and his neighbourspulled them out and rushed them to a private hospital. Kathiravan was declared brought dead and Mr. Muthukumar is in a critical condition.

The police sent the body of Kathiravan to the Government Royapettah Hospital for post-mortem. The police booked a case against Mr. Rajan and Mr. Anbumani under Section 304-A (Causing death due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code andProhibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act.

According to Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), an NGO, 55 deaths were reported infive years from 2016 with Chennai recording the highest number of 12 deaths due to manual scavenging.

Last year, the Centre told the Rajya Sabha that 43 people died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in Tamil Nadu in five years, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh, which reported 52 deaths.

Social activists said political will was needed to eliminate manual scavenging. A change was brought about after the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act came into effect. Both the Supreme Court and the High Courts had given firm directions on preventing manual scavenging. And yet such incidents happened.

Lack of awareness

A. Narayanan, director of Change India, an NGO, said all sewage contractors and their lorries should be registered. No unauthorisedcontractor was allowed to collect sewage and transport it to the nearest treatment plant. Everything was mechanised now, eliminating the need for manual cleaning.

The government should conduct a major awareness campaign. The septage management policy was drafted by the government seven years ago but not implemented properly. It stipulated how to prevent workers from getting into the septic tank. The government should give enough publicity to the policy and make all stakeholdersaware of it, Mr. Narayanan added.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 9:39:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/man-dies-while-cleaning-a-septic-tank/article38284405.ece