A 22-year-old contractual worker was found dead at the Delhi Jal Board’s (DJB’s) Keshopur Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) Thursday. His body was found in one of the pipes of the digester — the tank where sewage is treated.
According to DJB officials, Vinay Sirohi went missing from the STP’s premises at 10.30 am on Wednesday. His mother lodged a missing persons complaint at Vikaspuri police station Wednesday afternoon, after she received a call from the plant that Vinay had gone missing.
“Two fire tenders were also called to the STP and a search was launched by them,” said DCP (West) Pushpendra Kumar. Initially, sources said, the premises and the pipelines were thoroughly searched but Vinay could not be found.
Police said at about 10.30 am Thursday, they received a call from the employees of the STP informing them that there was a body in one of the pipelines.
“Police had to use gas cutters to cut through the pipe, after which the body was recovered. It was taken to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital for an autopsy,” said an officer.
A case has been registered under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC against unknown persons,
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Police said preliminary investigation revealed that Vinay went inside the pipeline at about 11.30 am on Wednesday to fix a leak and accidentally slipped into a connected pipeline. “After recording the statements of some employees, it came to light that he was not wearing a helmet or a face mask,” said police.
According to DJB officials, Sirohi was a contractual employee at the STP and had been hired by VA TECH WABAG Limited, a private company, as a valve operator for the plant.
A DJB official said, “Safety protocol has to be followed by anyone going into the digester. This includes wearing protective clothing, masks and most importantly, not going alone. This was not followed. It is very unfortunate that a young life has been lost.”
Voicing similar concerns, Prashpal Tomar, president of the DJB Karamchari Union, said, “It was because of negligence on part of the company and the DJB that a life has been lost. Workers are supposed to wear a safety belt, mask and helmet. Vinay should have been accompanied by two helpers who could have helped him out of the pipeline. Gases, which are released from the sewage being treated, make people dizzy. It appears this is what happened to Vinay… He might have opened the vault and been exposed to these gases..”
Tomar added that according to the contract between the DJB and the private firm, regular checks should have been conducted on whether safety protocol was being followed. DJB officials said supervisors are required to ensure the same.