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Delhi: Two Workers Die While Cleaning Septic Tank in Sarita Vihar

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Mohammad Alamullah

In the heart of India’s capital, two labourers lost their lives while cleaning a septic tank in Sarita Vihar, in Delhi. The tragic event occurred on Friday around 1 pm in the vicinity of Jasola village, once again highlighting the persistent dangers faced by sanitation workers in the city.

Upon receiving reports of the incident, local authorities swiftly responded, discovering two individuals trapped within the septic tank. 

Despite immediate efforts by the police and subsequent intervention by firefighters, the workers succumbed to inhaling poisonous gas fumes emanating from the tank. 

Identified as Raj Prakash Singh, aged 60, and an as yet unidentified labourer, the victims were rushed to a nearby hospital for urgent medical attention but, tragically, were declared brought dead by doctors.

While the police is investigating the matter, initial inquiries have revealed that the victims were hired by a local for cleaning purposes, were engaged in the cleaning operation using a tractor, a practice that raises concerns over safety protocols and adherence to regulations governing such hazardous tasks.

In recent years, the manual cleaning of sewers in the capital has been officially prohibited, yet incidents like this persist, raising questions about the safety measures and the accountability of those involved. 

Officials have cited a combination of negligence and systemic deficiencies as contributing factors to such tragedies.

According to statements from Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials, while direct DJB employees have been exempted from manual cleaning practices, the outsourcing of sewer maintenance to private agencies has introduced new challenges. With a limited number of agencies tasked with the responsibility, there have been instances of substandard workmanship and negligent safety procedures, leading to unavoidable accidents.

“The current system relies heavily on the performance of these agencies, but there have been lapses in oversight and enforcement,” remarked a DJB official. “While stringent measures are necessary to ensure compliance, excessive rigidity can impede the smooth functioning of sanitation efforts.”

Furthermore, there is a shared responsibility attributed to individuals and private contractors who engage in unauthorized and hazardous cleaning practices. Despite efforts by DJB to streamline the process through approved vendors equipped with proper training and safety gear, instances of circumventing regulations persist, often driven by cost considerations.

“Regrettably, some individuals and contractors continue to bypass established protocols, endangering the lives of workers for the sake of expediency,” noted a DJB representative. “This underscores the need for greater public awareness and strict enforcement of regulations to prevent such tragedies from recurring.”

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