Delhi to form panel to check deaths while cleaning sewers

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Hours after the death of two brothers while cleaning a sewage treatment plant of a city mall, Delhi Water Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam directed the department officials to form a “vigilance committee” to stop such incidents in the future.

The Minister issued instructions at a meeting with the officials of the Delhi Jal Board and other members at his residence.

“It is very sad to know that today (Saturday) also one labour expired and two injured during cleaning of septic tank of a private mall. Though we have no control on private buildings but we will take stern action against the violators,” Gautam tweeted.

“I am making a vigilance committee to monitor such illegal activities and stop such acts,” the Minister said in a series of tweets.

He said that it was very unfortunate even after the judgement of the Supreme Court, the contractors were violating the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act.

“I am shocked to see courage of these contractors they don’t fear from the Law.”

According to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government officials, since the death of three workers in Lajpat Nagar earlier this week, the Minister has been working on finding ways to control this.

“The Minister said there should not be any such incidents in future and for this he instructed the officials to set up a monitoring committee and a vigilance committee soon,” a senior official said.

In the meeting, the Minister also asked officials to meet frequently so that things are updated on a regular basis.

Two brothers identified as Jahangir, 24, and Izaz, 22, died of suffocation while cleaning a sewage plant of a city mall on Saturday. Their father, who was working with them, and a fireman, who went to rescue them, have been admitted to a city hospital after they too suffered from suffocation.

On Sunday, three persons had died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewer in Lajpat Nagar area of south Delhi.

Earlier last month, four persons had died in the national capital after inhaling poisonous gases as they entered to clean a water harvesting tank in Ghitorni area of south Delhi.

In both the cases, lack of safety equipment for the workers came to light after the tragedy.

The issue of the death of three persons in Lajpat Nagar while cleaning a sewer had rocked the Delhi Assembly on the first day of the Monsoon Session on Tuesday where the government had said that there were “standing instructions” that sewer drains should not be cleaned manually.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also announced Rs 10 lakh financial assistance for the families of three sanitation employees who died while cleaning a gutter in Lajpat Nagar. He also promised a government job to one family member each.

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