A DAY after three men, including a contractor, died when they allegedly inhaled poisonous gases after entering a manhole to clean it in Panvel’s Kalundre village, the police have learnt that the two labourers were not trained conservancy workers but were hired to deliver tools to the contractor. Two of the deceased have been identified as Vilas Mhaskar (35), the contractor, and Sachin Waghmare (46). The third man is yet to be identified. All three were employees of CIDCO.
The two labourers had allegedly been hired along with their vehicle by the contractor from a Rasayini-based labour contractor. DCP Sunil Lokhande said: “Mhaskar had taken the contract from CIDCO and contacted one Sayyed in Rasayini, who supplied a vehicle with basic tools and the two men.”
The police said the three men suffocated to death in the underground sewage line, which they had allegedly entered without any safety gear. “They prima facie died due to suffocation. There could be some poisonous gas inside the manhole, which needs to be checked. We have lodged accidental death reports in the matter,” said a senior police officer.
“The unidentified man went in first, followed by Waghmare, who panicked when the former stopped responding. When both the men stopped responding, Mhaskar went in, despite our protests,” said Raju Gaikwad, a resident of Kalundre village. He added, “We informed the police and fire brigade, who pulled out the bodies using hooks fixed to the ends of long poles.”
The residents of Kalundre village blamed CIDCO for not maintaining protocol while handing out contracts. “They should give contracts to only those who have a team and safety gears. The effluents from the sewage lines get mixed and create a mess in our village. We have complained in vain,” said Mahadev Bapat, an activist.
The villagers demanded that compensation be paid to the families of Waghmare and Mhaskar. “Mhaskar was the sole earning member of his family… He is survived by his wife and children. Waghmare was also the sole earning member and did odd jobs to support his wife and two children,” said Gaikwad.
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