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Labourer dies in sewage chamber, contractor booked

Police identified the labourer as Basappa Dongare (32) of Hadapsar.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
January 28, 2015 2:27:38 am
pmc, pune municipal corporation, pune labourer A PMC committee had said there was lack of equipment and gear like masks to protect the workers.

A labourer died after he descended into a drainage chamber, apparently at the behest of a contractor, near Tarachand hospital in Rasta Peth on Tuesday morning. Police suspect he fell unconscious after inhaling toxic gases and suffocated as he was cut off from oxygen. Police identified him as Basappa Dongare (32) of Hadapsar.

Samartha police station has filed a case of negligence against private contractor Rizwan Shaikh. Police suspect Basappa inhaled toxic gases and suffocated.

Police said the contractor from Wadarwadi asked Basappa to enter the drainage chamber at Utara chowk near Tarachand hospital to know the direction of flow of the sewage. Basappa entered the chamber using a ladder around 10 am. It was dark inside and he tried to check the flow using light from his cell phone. He is suspected to have fainted after inhaling harmful gases and suffocated to death.

When Basappa did not emerge, the fire brigade was called for help. According to fire brigade, they got a call around 10.35 am. A team of firemen reached the spot and removed Basappa’s body from the chamber.

Basappa was rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors tried to revive him but he died. The matter was reported at Samartha police station. Senior police inspector D A Patil said, “We registered an offence of negligence against the contractor Shaikh. Further investigation is on.”

Police said Basappa was not given safety equipment like mask for working in the drainage chamber.

When contacted, Shaikh said, “We had a plan for laying drainage lines. So we wanted to check flow of drainage. It is needed for making the work proposal. I called two labourers including Basappa. The drainage was about 8 feet deep. So we thought the labourer would do the work without mask. But he may have fainted because of harmful gases. We tried to rescue him. Another labourer and myself entered the chamber to remove Basappa. But we could not. So we informed fire brigade and the cops.”

Civic body passes the buck to contractor

Death of a labourer working for a private contractor appointed by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has once again raised the issue of safety of workers deployed to maintain sewage lines. The civic administration said the labourer being deputed by a private contractor, the civic administration had no role in the matter.

“I am not aware of the incident of a death of a person in a manhole. However, if the labourer of a private contractor died in the manhole, PMC would inquire into it,” said Prashant Waghmare, city engineer.

PMC superintending engineer who is in charge of the drainage department, Pradip Beldar, said, “I heard of the incident but don’t know details. I look after the main drainage department of PMC and this incident was related to work undertaken by the ward offices.”

In past, The Indian Express had highlighted deaths of conservancy staff of PMC that led to appointment of a committee to study the issue. The committee had concluded that there was lack of equipment and gear like masks to protect the workers.

Lack of awareness about protective gears, absence of first aid kits, no drinking water near work sites and delay in supplying soap to staff were also pointed out.

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