Outside the mortuary at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital on Monday stood a father, a cousin, an uncle and a friend — all waiting for bodies of five men who died while cleaning a sewage treatment plant (STP) at DLF Capital Greens, an upscale residential complex in Moti Nagar on Sunday afternoon.
The men, all from outside the capital, left behind a handicapped father; younger siblings; and a three-month-old baby. The Indian Express spoke to their families to understand the lives they led, earning Rs 8,000-13,000 a month, but hoping for something more one day.
Pankaj Kumar Yadav (26)
“He had an off on Sunday but was called to work by the supervisor… he was asked to check on the men who had entered the 30-feet-deep STP since they couldn’t hear any sounds. He didn’t come out alive,” said Yadav’s brother Krishna (20).
Yadav came to Delhi a year ago from Jaunpur, UP, and took up a job with Unnati Engineering and Contractor Pvt Ltd. He was put in the STP department at DLF Capital Greens, and earned Rs 12,000. When his wife gave birth to their second child in April, he went home for a month, and was due to visit again for Dussehra.
“He and his father are the only earning members. Since the incident, no one from DLF or JLL, which manages maintenance, has got in touch with us,” claimed Krishna.
Umesh Kumar (22)
Kumar was put in the housekeeping department by a contractor company, Crest. “He was forced to enter the STP without safety gear or any knowledge by the supervisor, who threatened to sack him,” alleged Santosh (30), his cousin.
From Sultanpur, UP, the “12th pass” came to Delhi in search of a job five years ago, to help his farmer father. “He has two younger siblings, grandparents, parents, a wife and an eight-month-old baby. He was the breadwinner,” said Santosh, who also maintained that no official had got in touch with him.
Mrityunjay Kumar Singh aka Raja (20)
From a village in Madhubani, Bihar, Raja came to Delhi nine months ago. “His father is a farmer, and he has three sisters… We don’t know which department he worked in or how much he earned. But he took care of everything back home,” said his uncle Basant Kumar Singh (45).
At midnight, Basant got a call from Raja’s father about the death of his son. “I didn’t know where to go, who to call… no one informed us about anything,” said Basant, as he waited to take his nephew’s body back to his village.
This was going to be a temporary job for Sarfaraz, to help him through a degree course he had enrolled in a year ago, and to support his family. “He wanted to start his own business… I am handicapped and we needed money. He took up that job because of me and now he’s gone,” said his father Mohammad Hayyul (50).
He earned Rs 9,000 a month, working as a motor operator in the STP department. “He had never gone inside the STP. On Sunday, he was told to go in or be sacked. A poor man can’t afford that… this is not death by negligence, this is murder,” alleged his cousin Azad (20), waiting to take the body to Darbhanga, Bihar.
Of the five, Vishal was the only one pulled out alive from the STP, and rushed to RML Hospital, where he died. Son of an electrician and the youngest child, he had taken up the job nine months ago. “He promised our father a life free of worries…,” said his sister Satya. He earned Rs 13,000 a month.