Two persons died on Friday in Outer Delhi’s Mundka area after they inhaled toxic gases inside a sewer, PTI reported. Rohit Chandiliya (32) worked as a sweeper at Delhi Development Authority flats, while Ashok Kumar (30) was a security guard.

An unidentified police official told PTI that there had been complaints about a sewer blockage in the area. Chandiliya was the first one to go inside the sewer to clean the pit, but fell unconscious after inhaling the toxic gases inside, according to Aaj Tak.

Kumar then went inside in an attempt to rescue Chandiliya, but he also fell unconscious.

Two more persons then tried to rescue the two men, but aborted the efforts as they felt dizzy due to the gases. Subsequently, the police and fire brigade officials pulled Chandiliya and Kumar out.

The two men were taken to a hospital but were declared brought dead.

The police have filed a case under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with causing death by negligence.

Manual scavenging – or the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewer lines or septic tanks – is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. But the practice remains prevalent in many parts of India.

On August 4, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that no one in the country is engaged in manual scavenging. However, it said that 330 persons died in accidents while cleaning sewers and septic tanks between 2017 and 2021.

On July 26, however, Athawale had told the Lok Sabha that the government had identified58,098 manual scavengers in the country in the last three years. On July 19, the government had told the Lok Sabha that 347 sanitation workers have died across India since 2017 while cleaning sewers and septic tanks.