Pradeep (21) could have been the sixth name added to the list of men who died while cleaning a sewage treatment plant at Moti Nagar’s DLF Capital Greens on Sunday, had he not climbed up for a glass of water.
The resident of Nangloi, who works as an STP operator in the complex, told The Indian Express: “Vishal and I were about to finish our shift when the supervisor coaxed us into entering the STP for a quick clean-up. We were the first two people to enter… I was there for 20 minutes and then climbed up to get water. We have never been given any training or safety equipment. This was our first time inside the STP.”
The two had been instructed by the supervisor to move the slush so that the water could be drained out. By the time Pradeep began climbing up at 2 pm, the employees due to work the next shift — Sarfaraz (19) and Raja (20) — were also there. “I reached till a certain level of the STP and then these two threw a rope so I could climb up. There is no staircase,” said Pradeep.
A few minutes later, when Pradeep returned to the STP after an unsuccessful attempt at finding water, he called out Vishal’s name a few times but didn’t hear back. “I was worried and also couldn’t see the rest of the men. A few minutes later, I saw him trying to climb up, covered in slush and looking sick. He complained of chest pain and breathlessness. I called the engineer’s office inside the complex and asked for help and an ambulance. That’s when a colleague came with a safety belt… which should have been provided in the first place. We pulled Vishal up, and I took him to a hospital nearby in an ambulance that did not have oxygen supply,” said Pradeep, a few hours after Vishal’s cremation. He joined work eight months ago, but says he won’t return now.