Despite several court rulings prohibiting entry of humans into sewer lines, two more people have died in Rajkot due to asphyxiation in the gutters.
Even after a 1993 legislation prohibiting manual scavenging of human excreta, and a Supreme Court verdict in the matter, till the last count at least 278 people have died in Gujarat while cleaning municipal sewer lines and septic tanks of private properties or chemical reservoirs in its numerous pharmaceutical and petro-chemical companies.
The latest tragedy happened in Rajkot’s Samrat industrial area when two people were sent down to clean the underground sewerage lines without any safety gears.
Following numerous court rulings during last two decades outlawing the practice of humans entering the gutters, the municipal authorities have washed their hands off the matter by handing over the job to contractors.
In the event of deaths in sewer lines, the authorities only ask the contractors to pay adequate compensation while police complaint is lodged as ‘accident’ despite common knowledge that such pipes carrying organic waste would definitely have lethal methane group of gases.
Sometimes, even contractor too becomes a victim when he hurriedly enters the sewer line to rescue the worker fallen unconscious inside. Such is the case in yesterday’s Rajkot tragedy.
The Rajkot Municipal Commissioner has ordered his deputy to conduct an inquiry into the tragedy.