A day after four labourers and a sub-contractor died while constructing a new sewage line in Ghaziabad’s Nandgram, officials at the Jal Nigam admitted that the men should have been provided safety gear, which could have helped save lives. Four officials have been suspended for negligence and lack of supervision.
The incident took place on Thursday afternoon. The four men — Damodar (40), Horil (35), Sandeep Kumar (21), Shiv Kumar (32) — had entered the sewer in Nandgram’s Krishna Colony at the behest of the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation for a Jal Nigam project. The contract for the sewer construction work was handed over to EMS Infracon. Sub-contractor Vijay Kumar had hired the four men.
“This manhole is a month old and the task at hand was to connect the houses in the vicinity to the main sewage line. This is a project that is being carried out in different parts of city and it was the initial phase. There is no denying that the engineers could have supervised it better. Hence, four officials have been suspended and further action is pending,” said a senior Jal Nigam official.
According to police, around 1.30 pm, Horil and another worker had entered the 20-feet-deep sewer. A few minutes later, a loud noise was heard. Anxious, one of the men entered the sewer to help them. Five minutes later, with no sign of the three men, the fourth worker went in, followed by Vijay.
Ram Nath, Vijay’s relative, said he had entered the sewer to save the men, one of whom was his brother-in-law. “Vijay had been carrying out sewer cleaning work for many years. His brother-in-law, Shiv, had never done it. It was only when Vijay asked him that he went along… We didn’t realise the job would kill them both, taking away the only two earning members of the family,” he said.
While police have filed an FIR against EMS Infracon and erring officials, no arrests have been made. Some labourers alleged that only one lid of the drain was opened, which concentrated the gases to a limited area.
“Usually, four-five lids of the same drain are opened to let the gases escape. In this case, only one lid was opened,” alleged Arvind Kumar, a labourer.