Three workers choke to death in manhole

Three workers choke to death in manhole

Three labourers died of suffocation when they were trying to clear a clogged sewerage line in CV Raman Nagar early on Tuesday.

Anjaneya Reddy (34), Eeraiah (35), and Davitha Naidu (40), all from Andhra Pradesh, had descended into a manhole when tragedy struck.

The BWSSB has outsourced maintenance to Ramky Infrastructure. Though manual scavenging is banned, the company sent the three men to clear the block, police said. BWSSB Chief Engineer Ravindra will conduct an inquiry.

A sewerage line from KR Puram to Marathahalli was blocked on the Kaggadaspura main road. The BWSSB zonal office had logged a complaint a week ago. When it rained on Monday, the line started to overflow, prompting citizens to call the authorities.

Ramky Infrastructure hired the workers to save on sending a machine, police said. Prashant Muniraju, who lives in Kaggadaspura, was passing by when he heard eyewitnesses talking about the workers collapsing into the manhole.
 
He called the fire and emergency services, who arrived and began rescue operations. By 2.30 am, they had pulled out the three bodies. “The workers had come in a tractor. It had bricks loaded in it. We don’t know who was around when the incident took place,” a senior police officer said.

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993 and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act of 2013 prohibit hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks. Bengaluru Development Minister K J George announced Rs 10 lakh as compensation to each of the victims’ families. “The government has banned manual scavenging. The contractor will have to pay for it,” George said. Social Welfare and Public Works Department Minister H Anjaneya visited Bowring Hospital and promised to help the victims’ families.

“We don’t know if they were registered sanitary workers. I have ordered an investigation. The guilty will face strict action,” he said. The victims’ families are coming to Bengaluru. Once they give their consent, the bodies will be sent for post mortem, a police officer said. George and Mayor Padmavathi visited Bowring Hospital, where the bodies are being kept. Padmavathi blamed Ramky Infrastructure for the incident. A sanitary worker is paid between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 to clear a sewerage block, said Padma M, member of the government’s Manual Scavenging Monitoring Committee. “They are also given cheap liquor to help them brace for the stench. It takes them 30 minutes to two hours to clear a block,” she told DH.  

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