Three labourers, including one in his late teens, died after entering a gas-filled chamber in a sewage treatment plant at Mira Road on Wednesday. Another labourer is critical after the incident that took place during a cleaning exercise at the plant run by Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation in Shanti Park.
According to a statement from the civic body, the men entered the chamber without any safety gear. They went in one after the other and fell unconscious inside due to the toxic gases.
“They were rushed to a hospital nearby where three of them were declared dead on arrival,” said Shantaram Walvi, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mira Road Division.
The deceased were identified as Mafizzul (19), Muzaffar Mohlik (24) and Rafiq Mandal (50). Aftar Mulla (49) is in the ICU and is critical, said police.
The incident comes less than a week after two conservancy workers and a contractor suffocated to death inside a manhole in Panvel.
The civic body further stated that the four men entered the chamber at 1.55 pm to clean the muck inside, adding that the absence of safety gear rendered them unconscious due to the toxic gases. The supervisor alerted police and the fire brigade that rushed to the site and pulled the workers out using ropes.
The plant, one often operated by the civic body in the city, is handled by a private firm named SPML Infra under a five-year contract for operational maintenance.
The firm, however, has sub-contracted another company, Tandon and Associates, to oversee day-to-day operations at the plant where the mishap occurred, further stated the civic body, adding that the two-metre deep chamber did not require manual cleaning.
“Labourers entering the chamber to clean the interiors is not part of the standard operating procedure. We are not sure why they went into the chamber,” said Suresh Wakode, head of the water supply department.
Municipal commissioner Balaji Khatgaonkar ordered an inquiry into the deaths and issued instructions to probe the role of Tandon and Associates.
Police have registered a case of accidental death.