Four labourers died while constructing a new sewage line in Ghaziabad’s Nandgram Thursday. A sub-contractor who brought them in for the project also died trying to save them.
Police said the labourers — Damodar (40), Horil (35), Sandeep Kumar (21) and Shiv Kumar (32) — were engaged by the Ghaziabad Jal Nigam through a private company, and given the task of laying a new sewage line in Krishna Kunj colony in Nandgram to meet the main drainage system from Meerut Road.
Police said sub-contractor Vijay Kumar (40) was associated with EMS Infracon Pvt Ltd in Ghaziabad, which was supposed to construct the sewer line.
“We have filed a case under IPC Section 304 against EMS Infracon Pvt Ltd and three engineers for not providing safety equipment to the workers and under the Manual Scavenging Act. We are also exploring the possibility of adding sections of the SC/ST Act,” said SP (City) Shlok Kumar. No arrests have been made so far. The complaint was filed by the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation.
According to eyewitnesses, the men were laying down the new line when, at around 1.30 pm, they entered the drain to line it with cement.
After a few minutes, those present at the spot said, one worker fainted and fell into the 10-12 feet deep drain. To help him out, another worker went in but also fell unconscious. Two others tried to pull them up but also fainted. Vijay was the last one who tried to save the men but he too fainted. All five men were from Bihar’s Samastipur.
Sandeep’s brother, Lallan Kumar (17) told The Indian Express that three men were from his village in Samastipur while the other two were from another village nearby. “My brother was a construction worker, not a sanitation worker. He had come to Ghaziabad around 2 months ago in search of a job. The village head was contacted by authorities and he informed us. My father and the family members of the other men have gone to Ghaziabad,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the five victims and has directed the managing director of the Ghaziabad Jal Nigam to conduct an enquiry.
“The Uttar Pradesh CM has taken cognizance of the incident and has directed that all possible help be extended to the victims’ families. Action will be taken. A magisterial enquiry will take place and the report will be submitted in two weeks,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, Ghaziabad DM.
Rajveer Singh (62), a grocery store owner who was near the spot when the incident took place, was alerted by passersby. “I immediately opened the lids of two adjacent drains, 50 feet on either side, to let the fumes out. I also tried to disperse the fumes by placing a fan at the drain opening,” he said.
Jitender Yadav (24), who works as a mechanic at EMS Infracon Pvt Ltd, and lives in Nandgram, was called by the bystanders. “Two of us tied ropes around our bodies and went into the drain. We pulled out the men and took them to a hospital on our motorcycles. They were declared dead on arrival.”