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Saturday, November 27, 2021

3 workers die of suffocation while cleaning sewer line in Sector 47

Contractor arrested for causing death due to negligence; two firemen collapse during the rescue.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 31, 2015 4:34:43 am
Chandigarh sewer line, Sewer line cleaning accident, Sewer line Sector 47, Municipal Corporation sewer line, Sewer line cleaning, Chandigarh news Two firemen admitted to GMSH-16.

Three workers died due to suffocation while cleaning a Municipal Corporation’s sewer line in Sector 47 here on Saturday. The trio were employees of a private contractor hired by the MC for the task of cleaning the sewer lines.

They entered the sewer line, one after another, through a 25-foot-deep manhole, using a ladder.

After a two-hour-long rescue operation, they were rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, where they were declared dead on arrival. Their bodies were later shifted to Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, for a post-mortem examination.


The private contractor, Sukhpal, was arrested on charge of causing death due to negligence.

The deceased were identified as Ashraf, 35, Dhan Singh, 30, and Prem Pal, 40, all hailing from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. They stayed at Bhainsa Tibba village near Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula, while their families lived in Uttar Pradesh.

Chandigarh sewer line, Sewer line cleaning accident, Sewer line Sector 47, Municipal Corporation sewer line, Sewer line cleaning, Chandigarh news During the rescue operation in Sector 47, Chandigarh, on Saturday.

Four workers employed by Sukhpal were assigned the work to clean up the sewer line. They reached the spot in Sector 47 and started the work around 10.30 am. Ashraf was the first to enter the sewer line through the manhole.

The other two, Dhan Singh and Prem Pal, followed him while Bhora Singh remained outside.

“All three had entered the sewer line by 10.45 am. After a few minutes, it was my turn to go inside. On entering, I saw that none of the three were responding. I felt suspicious. I tried to reach them but realised that the pressure of the gas emanating out of the manhole was too high. I sensed something was wrong and called the Police Control Room,” Bhora told Chandigarh Newsline.

Since the spot falls under the jurisdiction of Sector 31 police station, they received a call from PCR. The Fire Brigade Headquarters in Sector 17 was also alerted by the PCR. By about 11.30 am the PCR personnel reached the spot. Two fire tenders carrying firemen with rescue equipment reached the spot about 12 noon.

However, the rescue operation got prolonged since the first two firemen who entered the sewer line, Thakur Singh and Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, collapsed. Sanjeev wore a protective gear while Thakur wore none. Other firemen who were well-equipped with gas masks and oxygen cylinders entered the sewer line and started getting people out. Thakur and Sanjeev were first pulled out and rushed to the Sector 16 hospital.

“Then we took out the other workers. We handed them over to the police who rushed them to the hospital,” said one of the firemen. “It looked as if they were no more.”

“The contractor, Sukhpal, has been arrested under Section 304-A of Indian Penal Code. Bodies of the three victims were kept at GMSH-16 mortuary for the post-mortem, which shall be conducted tomorrow. Families of the victims were intimated and they were expected to reach here tomorrow. The two firemen who collapsed during the rescue operation are fine but under observation,” said a police official.

Damage control begins

Soon after the incident, Mayor Poonam Sharma reached the mortuary and met the two firemen who were hospitalised. After speaking to them and the doctors, she announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each, to be given to the families of the three victims. She said she would ensure that one member of each of the three families got a government job in the Municipal Corporation. “Municipal Corporation shall also bear the cost of the victims’ cremation,” she added.

Mayor defends MC

Exonerating Municipal Corporation of any lapses on their part, Poonam Sharma said, “The guidelines of contractual agreement with the contractor are clear. From our side, we had mentioned in the agreement that the workers are required to be given safety gears while carrying out work. During such a cleaning process, it was mandatory that at least three different ducts of manholes are opened before proceeding as it releases the gas pressure inside the sewer line. However, the same was not implemented in this case.”

Meetings Follow

“I have called a meeting of all the contractors engaged by MC. They shall be asked to adhere to the guidelines in their contract agreements. A Municipal Corporation employee will be deployed as a supervisor to ensure the contractors are following the guidelines mentioned in their contractual agreements,” Mayor Sharma said.
Past incident
IN A similar incident, on August 25 last year, a 35-year-old worker with the UT public health department had died moments after opening a manhole near Sukha Lake. The victim had inhaled gas emanating out of the manhole and fell unconscious. Because of that, he fell inside the manhole and eventually died of suffocation.

Inquiry marked

Secretary (Local Bodies) Anurag Agarwal said that he had marked an inquiry into this incident and asked the MC to send him a report at the earliest. “Prima facie, the contractor was at fault as he started working on a sewer line which was not even assigned to him. Further, he did not ensure safety measures for his staff before starting the work. But negligence of the MC staff can’t be ruled out too. We will take strict action against whosoever is responsible for this incident,” he said.

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