FIVE MEN, aged between 18 and 30 years, died Sunday evening after inhaling poisonous gas while cleaning a sewage tank at a residential complex in West Delhi, police said.
According to police, the incident occurred at the P tower of DLF Capital Greens residential complex in the Moti Nagar area, where the five were engaged in cleaning the tank that was about 30 feet deep and located in the basement.
Police said it appeared that the men were not wearing safety equipment. Witnesses at the spot alleged that the facilities management firm engaged by the complex had “forced” workers employed for housekeeping to do other jobs at the site, including the cleaning of tanks.
In a statement, DLF said the services at the complex were maintained by JLL. Representatives of JLL did not respond to requests for comment. DCP (West) Monika Bhardwaj told The Indian Express that a case has been registered and investigations are on.
The residential complex includes four sections, of which Phase 1 and Phase 2 are occupied while Phase 3 and Phase 4 are under construction. The incident occurred in Phase 2 of the complex, police said.
Police identified the dead as Vishal, Sarfaraz, Pankaj, Raja and Umesh – all of them stayed near the apartment complex. Bhardwaj said they received a call around 3 pm from Acharya Bhikshu Hospital that four labourers had been brought dead to the hospital from the site. The fifth labourer, Vishal, was referred to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where he died during treatment, police said.
Vishal’s sister, Satya, said he was working with a private company on contract basis for Rs 12,000 per month. “But his work was not to go inside the tank. I don’t know how this happened. Somebody must have forced him to go inside,” Satya told The Indian Express.
”He was alive when he was taken to the hospital. He told doctors he suffocated. People took him late to the hospital,” alleged Vishal’s brother, Angad.
A labourer at the site, Jitender, accused the facilities firm of forcing house-keeping staff to do other jobs, as well. “I was working in another tower when my colleague Kapil told me that five persons were trapped inside a tank. Somebody called the police and informed fire brigade. They were taken out one by one, and rushed to hospital,” said Jitender.
Vinod Gupta, another employee, said all the workers were sent to clean the tank on the instructions of the supervisor.
A DLF spokesperson said, “The services at the said complex is managed by JLL, one the largest facility management companies. JLL is known for its high quality safety standards and service. We are still awaiting the detailed report from JLL on the unfortunate incident. We are sure that JLL will take all measures to take care of the families that have been affected.”