A labourer drowned and two others are feared dead after a mishap at an under-construction “interceptor sewage project” in West Delhi Friday. The incident took place at Vikaspuri’s Keshopur drain, which comes under the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), around 12.45 pm. A PCR call was received at 1 pm.
Delhi Fire Services (DFS) chief Atul Garg said, “Prima facie it appears the men were doing welding work and suddenly the water flow increased drastically, and took them with it.”
Police are also exploring eyewitness claims that the workers fainted after inhaling toxic gases, and said a post-mortem will confirm what exactly transpired.
Shah Rukh Khan (25), who was pulled out of the site by DFS, was declared dead on arrival at DDU Hospital, DCP (West) Monika Bhardwaj said. He hailed from UP’s Bulandshahr.
“The other workers, Ankit (19), a resident of Hardoi, and Devender Sharma (25), a resident of Etah, have not been located so far,” she said. Preliminary investigation suggests nine other workers were deployed for construction. A contractor was detained from the spot, police said.
Bhardwaj said, “Investigation revealed that the DJB had awarded the contract to Delhi-based M/S Pratibha to erect a cemented wall over the drain for treatment of water, to be sent to the Yamuna.”
Garg alleged the DJB “did not shut off water flow despite repeated requests”. “We suspect the labourers drowned because water flow was switched on during work,” he said.
DJB vice-chairman Dinesh Mohaniya said work had been going on for a few months and was “98% complete”.
He said the labourers were doing welding work inside the chamber which would separate floating material from waste water from a drain next to it. The waste water would then be transported to Keshopur STP nearby, from where treated water would be released back into the Yamuna.
“We can’t comment on requests made to close the drain gates, as we are waiting for police investigation to finish… Families of those involved in the incident will be compensated,” he said.
Imran (19), a labourer at the site, claimed none of the workers were given safety equipment.
A DJB spokesperson said “the main contractor for this project is Engineers India Limited, which gave the contract to M/S Pratibha”. “Our only job here is to check the status of work every month. We did not receive any
official communication that water flow needs to be shut,” the spokesperson said. A DJB official said that since an official was immediately detained by police from the spot, “the message about shutting off water flow could not be relayed to the DJB”.