A day after a 50-year-old driver, working with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, died when a part of a steer loader fell on him, workers from the zone poured in to the civic body office in Narela’s Punjabi Colony as a mark of protest. The victim, Satvir Rathi, died after parts of the machine — used to clean drains and lift garbage — fell on his chest and head while he was trying the machine, which the corporation had purchased one year ago but had been given to the drivers just a month ago, police said.
With blood still on the seat, on Friday the machine lay in one corner of the office. Visitors surrounded it, discussing what could have led to the death.
“None of the drivers will use this killer machine. We will bring the body of Satvir Rathi and keep it here till the civic body commissioner does not assure a compensation of Rs 1 crore, a job for a family member and an investigation,” said Surender Singh Khatri, president of the Municipal Vehicle Chalak Union.
Most workers alleged that the civic body has not trained them properly to drive “very technical machines like these”, and that they are used to the easy-to-use machines they drove earlier.
Kapoor Singh, 52, who drives a similar machine, said, “The corporation gave us a training of 15 days but that was hardly of any use as most workers were allowed to spend less than 15 minutes on the machine. Most of the drivers, who were given training, were above 50. It is not possible to learn such technology at such an advanced age,” he said.
A source in the North corporation said the civic body had purchased around 15 such machines over 11 months ago, but had been using them only since February because of a delay in registration through the transport departments. Each machine cost the corporation over Rs 20 lakh, the source said.
Surender Singh, 50, who witnessed Thursday’s incident, said, “Just a few minutes after he started the machine, a bucket fitted in front of the engine for lifting garbage went up, and the roof, which is movable, came down and crushed his head. He fell on the seat with blood coming out of his nose.”
The machine does not have much space for a driver to jump out. Visibility through the front and back vision is obstructed due to the design, he said.
Rathi’s family members, who were not allowed to bring the body to the North MCD office in Narela, took it home after the post-mortem.
North DMC Mayor Preety Agarwal said she has ordered an investigation and asked the commissioner to probe the quality of the machine.
Another driver, Phulwan, 59, said, “Earlier, when the corporation introduced the machine, people from the manufacturing company were hired as drivers. But this time, people who were driving trucks earlier were given a machine that is totally dependent on two levers. We have to keep both hands engaged all the time to control these machines. You cannot even remove a mosquito from your face because if you leave the lever on, the machine will make a 360 degree turn.”