2 labourers die in manhole near minister's residence

2 labourers die in manhole near minister's residence

Police book junior engineer, contractor for negligence

2 labourers die in manhole near minister's residence

Two labourers died of asphyxiation while trying to clear a blockage in a manhole near the premises of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) on 1st main road in Jayamahal on Tuesday noon. The employees of Central Excise department reside in a quarte­rs located on the premises.

According to police, the deceased are Prasanna Kumar, 29, a resident of Singapura Layout in MS Palya and a native of Turuvekere in Tumakuru district and Yatish Raju alias Sethu, 28, a resident of Vidyaranyapura. Kumar had married nine months ago. They both were working as manhole cleaners. The incident took place next to the house of H Anjaneya, Minister for Social Welfare. On Wednesday morning, the residents complained of blockage in a manhole. They informed Bala Reddy, junior engineer of CPWD. He, in turn, asked Nagaraj, a private contractor, to look into the matter. Nagaraj asked Kumar and Sethu to clear the blockage and agreed to pay them Rs 500, police said.

Around 11 am, the duo arrived at the quarters and found the drain clogged in a particular house. They tried to clear it, but in vain. They  realised that they would have to first clear the blockage in the main manhole outside the premises. They opened the main manhole and found that it was completely blocked. Sethu got into the manhole and soon fell unconscious. Kumar went to rescue him, but he too fell unconscious due to asphyxiation. Another labourer alerted Nagaraj, who rushed to the spot, police said.

Nagaraj informed the fire services and an ambulance was requisitioned. The fire personnel arrived and pulled the duo out. They found Sethu dead, while Kumar was rushed to a nearby hospital. But the doctors declared him brought dead. The police shifted the bodies for post-mortem.

A senior police officer said, “We inspected the spot and found that the deceased went into the manhole themselves. They did not use any kind of sucking or jetting machine to clear the manhole. It is a case of negligence of the contractor and engineer. The JC Nagar police have registered a case of negligence and under the Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, against Reddy and Nagaraj.”

Compensation sought
Narayan, chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Safai Karmacharis, said, “It is a highly irresponsible act and unfortunate incident. As the manhole was blocked, it was filled with poisonous gas. As soon as Sethu got into the manhole, he inhaled the gas and collapsed. Kumar, who went to rescue Sethu, met with a similar fate. Their family members can claim compensation of Rs 10 lakh from the State government, Rs 5 lakh from Central government and Rs 5 lakh under SC/ST Atrocities Act.”