A 37-year-old man died while cleaning a sewer, allegedly after inhaling toxic gases, in Dwarka’s Dabri Extension late Friday evening. An FIR has been registered at Dabri police station under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304A (causing death due to negligence) and Section 7/9 of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act.
DCP (Dwarka) Anto Alphonse said, “The contractor Satbir Kala had hired the victim, Anil, to clean the stagnant sewer line. Kala was admitted to a private hospital for high blood pressure on the night of the incident…he was discharged on Sunday and will be arrested soon.”
The incident took place a week after five men died while cleaning a sewage treatment plant (STP) in Moti Nagar’s DLF Capital Greens.
As per the FIR, Anil was lowered into the 20-25-feet deep sewer with a rope around his waist. The rope snapped, plunging him inside.
The FIR also mentioned that the man who helped Anil go down the sewer had warned Kala of an impending mishap, saying that the “rope is loose and can break at any moment…the sewer is deep and has gases”.
Police confirmed that Anil was not provided any safety apparatus, and the rope used was not equipped to bear his weight.
He was pulled out of the sewer by police and fire officials, and was rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
The sewer was set up by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) a few months ago. Residents told The Indian Express that despite repeated letters to the board requesting cleaning of the sewer, no steps were taken.
“This is civic apathy… no one shows up after complaints,” alleged Ina, who has been living in the area for 16 years. A DJB official said: “While the sewer falls under our authority, it has not been notified and commissioned yet. The cleaning was done privately, and no one sought permission from the Board.”
Anil is survived by his wife, Rani, and three children, who live in Dabri Extension.
“I spoke to him at 7 pm on Friday and he told me he is doing this job… an hour later, I found out that he had died. He was supposed to be paid Rs 400-500 for this job,” said Rani.
She added that Anil was the only earning member of the family and earned “enough to make ends meet.”
She also alleged “foul play by the contractor.”
“I have lost my husband because of the contractor’s carelessness. We live in a 10×10 room and I cannot even afford the rent now… My 11-year-old son started school last week. Our future is in jeopardy now,” she said.