Four die after inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning tank
In a tragic incident, four sanitation workers died of asphyxiation while cleaning a harvestic tank in south Delhi's Ghitorni area on Saturday morning.
Police said that five men had gone into the tank in a household in the area to clean it. But eyebrows were raised when did not come out for a long time.
It was soon found that they inhaled poisonous gases and were unable to climb out after becoming unconscious. Police were informed of the incident, but four of them were later declared dead.
The incident was reported around 10 am, when the owner of a plot called some men, involved in manual scavenging, to clean the harvesting tank in the ground floor. Five workers had come for the cleaning work.
"First, two workers went inside and started cleaning the tank. But within minutes, they fell unconscious. To rescue them, another worker went inside. But he too did not make it to the surface.
Later, the remaining two remaining persons also went in one after the other to search for their mates, but they too got stuck," said a senior police officer.
Soon, the police and the fire brigade were informed and all five workers were taken out in an unconscious state. The entire operation by the police and Fire department took over an hour.
"Three of them were taken to Fortis Hospital, while the other two were taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre and the Safdarjung Hospital," said Ishwar Singh, DCP South.
The deceased workers, identified as Swarn Singh (45), Dipu (28), Anil (23) and Balwinder (32), were declared brought dead at the hospital.
The fifth worker, Jaspal, Swarn Singh's son, is currently undergoing treatment at Fortis. All five belong to Ambedkar Colony in Chhattarpur.
The building where the workers were called was under construction. Police are now investigating whether safety norms were overlooked while assigning work to the workers.
"We have registered a case under IPC 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308/34 against the owner J K Mehta. Legal procedure is on and investigation is under progress," said a senior police officer.
Condemning the practice of manually removing of night soil with bare hands, brooms or metal scrappers, the Supreme Court had already directed all the States to abolish manual scavenging and take steps for rehabilitation of such workers.