Three labourers suffocate to death in Govandi septic tank

Trio who did not have safety gear inhaled methane; contractor being questioned

Updated - December 24, 2019 09:22 am IST

Published - December 24, 2019 01:44 am IST - Mumbai

Tragic:  The incident occurred at Maurya Slum Rehabilitation Authority society in Ganesh Wadi.

Tragic: The incident occurred at Maurya Slum Rehabilitation Authority society in Ganesh Wadi.

Three contract labourers died while cleaning the septic tank of a residential building in Govandi on Monday.

According to the Govandi police, the incident occurred around 11 a.m. at the 22-storey Maurya Slum Rehabilitation Authority society in Ganesh Wadi. The three — Vishwajeet Devnath (32), Govind Choritiya (34) and Santosh Kalsekar (45) — who were hired on contract by the building management fell unconscious while cleaning the tank.

Some residents of the building, who were overseeing the work, saw the labourers collapse and called the Mumbai Fire Brigade. A team entered the septic tank wearing masks and other safety gear, and pulled the trio out. The three were taken to Shatabdi Hospital, where they were declared dead before admission.

“The workers did not have any safety equipment and they inhaled methane while being trapped in the tank. According to the Employment Act 2013, manual cleaning of septic tanks without safety gear and mechanised equipment is prohibited. If the contractor is found guilty, action will be taken against him,” senior police inspector Balasaheb Kedare, Govandi police station, said.

Sunil Yadav, a BMC worker and a Phd scholar from TISS, said he has taken up the cause of the three deceased labourers to ensure their families get justice. “Deaths of manual scavengers often go unnoticed and their families do not get proper compensation. The contractors or builders who hire them should take responsibility for their safety.”

Mr. Yadav’s wife, advocate Sanjana Yadav, has written to Mr. Kedare seeking a case of causing death due to negligence be registered against the contractor, while demanding a compensation of ₹10 lakh each for the families of the deceased.

Police officials said accidental death reports have been registered for the moment.

“We are recording statements of the residents and are also inquiring with the contractor. We need to ascertain whether any safety equipment were provided or whether they were provided and not used. We might also collect CCTV footage of the building,” an officer with the Govandi police said.

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