A 32-year-old labourer drowned while cleaning an eight-foot-deep sewage tank at a Delhi Jal Board pump house, in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on Sunday. Additional DCP (northwest) AK Lall said, “The DJB had given the contract of cleaning and repairing the tank to a private company — KKSpun India Limited.”
Police sources said they have detained a supervisor of the firm, who was reportedly at the spot when the incident took place. “On Sunday morning, Dooman Ray went into the tank to open a valve, and died inside. A case under IPC Section 304A and sections 7 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act has been registered,” said Lall. Sources said the valve inside the tank releases water for cleaning.
Police said they received a call from Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, that a man had died while cleaning a sewage tank.
Eyewitnesses told police that Ray and three others were cleaning the tank. “The victim was inside the tank for half-an-hour, before the other workers realised he was not moving. The exact cause of death is yet to be ascertained. However, as per preliminary investigation, when Ray opened the valve, water gushed into the tank and he drowned,” said a police officer, adding that they are verifying if he was wearing the requisite safety gear.
A DJB official said, “The Delhi Jal Board is extremely sorry to hear about the loss. The matter is being looked into and action will be taken accordingly.” A worker and eyewitness, Dayanand Kumar, said Ray got into the tank to open the valve. “It is a routine exercise — one of us goes inside with a rope around his waist, while the rest hold on to him… We pulled him out and took him to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.”
Ray was from Bihar’s Katihar district and lived at a rented house in Keshavpuram. He is survived by a wife and daughter. “He had come to Delhi a year ago and joined the company as a labourer. He earned Rs 10,000 a month,” said a police officer. Police said the body has been kept at BJRM hospital and a post-mortem will be conducted once his family arrives.