Five men died while cleaning a sewer at a residential complex in West Delhi on Sunday, reports said. The police said a preliminary investigation indicated that the workers were not wearing any safety equipment while cleaning the tank at the Phase 2 section of DLF Capital Greens residential complex in Moti Nagar.
The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government ordered an inquiry into the matter, ANI reported. Labour Minister Gopal Rai has ordered the authorities to submit an inquiry report within three days.
Fire and emergency services personnel who retrieved the men from the tank fell ill soon after inhaling the toxic fumes as well.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Monika Bhardwaj said a case of causing death due to negligence has been registered and investigations are on. “We will take action against the contractor or the person who allowed them to climb into the tank,” Bhardwaj told The Times of India.
DLF issued a statement claiming that the company JLL was managing the services at the complex, The Indian Express reported. “JLL is known for its high quality safety standards and service,” DLF said. “We are still awaiting the detailed report from JLL on the unfortunate incident. We are sure that JLL will take all measures to take care of the families that have been affected.” JLL, however, did not comment.
A team of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, led by its chairperson Ram Shankar Katheria, will visit the spot in the evening to conduct an inquiry, reported PTI. Summons have been issued to Delhi’s police commissioner, the chief secretary, the chief executive officer of the Delhi Jal Board, the district magistrate (West), the deputy commissioner of police (West) and DLF chairman to be present during the inspection.
The police identified the deceased as Vishal, Sarfaraz, Pankaj, Raja and Umesh. Bhardwaj said four of the victims were brought dead at the Acharya Bhikshu Hospital while the fifth was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where he died.
A sister of Vishal, one of the victims, claimed that his job responsibilities did not include cleaning the sewer tank. Another worker at the residential complex accused the service firm of forcing housekeeping staff to perform other tasks.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bhushan Madan said the Aam Aadmi Party had failed to prevent the deaths, ANI reported. “This is not the first time such an incident has taken place in the city,” Madan said. “The Aam Aadmi Party government is clearly responsible for this incident. They had promised to increase the use of technology to clean sewers, but even after so many deaths, the same old methods are being used. They are playing with the lives of innocents.”
In August 2017, a worker died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewer tank at the Lok Nayak Hospital in New Delhi.