No harnesses, no safety kits, we work in dangerous waters
Two young men drowned in the sewage pit while laying pipeline in Dadri Surajpur Chhalera road, Uttar Pradesh, last week. Bodies of Aslam (39) and Hamid (20) were found after nearly four-hour of search carried out by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The two men were working in the night on Salarpur sewer line.
The Noida Authority had given the contract to Dankaur-based Hari Om Kumar’s company for laying the sewage line. He in turn outsourced the work to another small-time local person who deputed the two men to work. Aslam and Hamid descended into the 12-feet deep ditch without safety kit and other necessary equipment. Hence, they drowned.
A contractual junior engineer has been dismissed for ‘not having done his duty properly’ and an FIR lodged against the contractor.
Just last month, two other workers died after inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning a septic tank in Gurugram and another one in Chandigarh.
On a sad note in India, this a common practice- to get hold of people and literally send them down the drain. These men are not trained, not provided with harnesses, rescue ropes, breathing apparatus/ oxygen cylinders, protective clothing, safety belts, helmets, gumboots, gloves either. Also, there are no trained officials to supervise them.
It may be noted that working in a manhole/drain has its own set of potential dangers. There could be slips, fire or explosion, oxygen depletion, gas poisoning, heat stress, drowning, asphyxiation due to fumes etc. There are rules and regulation and manuals provided for those supervising such work, but they lie in drawers gathering dust.
The sanitation department is not the only department that treats live disgracefully. The electricity department is another one that treats its workers without safety gloves and other necessary safety kits.
The workers are made to climb up the electricity poles without any precaution. Many of these workers come in contact with high tension wires and get electrocuted. These accidents are so grave that within minutes the bodies actually turn into ash.
Also, when such accidents occur, the higher authorities look out for a scapegoat as in this case it was the contractual junior engineer.