Lack of toilet: NHRC notice to Tamil Nadu govt over woman's death

The victim was working in the Kancheepuram Agriculture Development office when the incident happened on December 7, the rights panel said
Last Updated 18 December 2020, 15:24 IST

The NHRC has sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu government over a complaint that allegedly due to lack of toilets at the workplace, a warehouse manager of the state government died after she fell into a septic tank at an under-construction building where she had gone to relieve herself.

The victim was working in the Kancheepuram Agriculture Development office when the incident happened on December 7, the rights panel said on Friday.

"The National Human Rights Commission has taken cognizance of a complaint that due to lack of toilet facility in her office, a warehouse manager of Tamil Nadu government went outside to relieve herself in an under-constructional building and died, after she fell down in a septic tank there," the rights panel said in a statement.

The Commission has issued a notice to the government of Tamil Nadu through its chief secretary, seeking a detailed report.

"It should include action taken against the delinquent public servants, who have failed to provide basic facility in a government office. The response is expected within six weeks," it said.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has observed that it appears that the state government has "prima facie failed to cater the basic needs for its employees", who discharge their duties for the welfare and well-being of the people.

"It seems to have shown remissness to protect and secure the life and dignity of a woman employee," the rights panel said.

The Commission has also noted that the "central government has initiated various schemes under Swachh Bharat Mission to construct toilets as a basic amenity, mainly for girls and women specifically, but unfortunately, it has shown no improvement in the condition of state government departments, much less, a good and conducive working environment, which is the paramount consideration for any employer to offer to its employees".

Article 42 of the Constitution of India, which is under the Directive Principles of State Policy, makes it mandatory for the State to ensure that it is the duty of the administrative authority to secure just and human conditions at the work place, the statement said.

According to the complaint, "since there is no toilet in her office, the 24-year-old victim had gone to relieve herself in a nearby building that was being constructed under a state government scheme. A tin sheet was used to cover the septic tank, nearby which she went to relieve herself, when she somehow got slipped and fell into the tank," it said.

"When she did not return for half-an-hour, her colleagues got worried and went in search for her. They were shocked to find her footwear floating in the septic tank and then tried to rescue her. They rushed her to the Kancheepuram Government Hospital with the help of local residents but she was declared brought dead," the statement said.

(Published 18 December 2020, 15:24 IST)

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