BENGALURU: Three workers suffocated to death while manually cleaning an STP tank in an apartment in Somasundarapalya in HSR Layout, here on Sunday.
However, this is not the first incident of death due to this heinous practice. On March 7, 2017, three workers who got into a manhole on Kaggadasapura main road to clean it had died. It was a government agency which had engaged them then. Forty-four people have died in the state while cleaning manholes between 2010 and 2017.
In Sunday’s incident, the workers, including a maintenance staffer of the apartment, had entered the 8-foot-deep, 144 sqft STP tank at ND Sepal Apartments without any protective gear. Neither were they skilled nor experienced at this job. Incidentally, a fire personnel fainted due to the poisonous gases in the STP chamber while trying to retrieve the three bodies. But timely first aid saved his life.
A case of negligence has been filed against the management and the residents’ association for allowing workers to clean the STP manually.
The deceased are Narayanaswamy (36) of Kaigondanahalli, Madegowda (45) and Srinivas (48) of Somasundarapalya. Narayanaswamy was on the maintenance staff of the apartment association. He had roped in his friends Madegowda, Srinivas and Manjunath -- all inexperienced at cleaning STP tanks -- for the job which the residents sought to be completed on Sunday.
A police officer said the incident occurred around 10.45 am when the four workers started to manually clean the STP. Madegowda and Srinivas entered the STP tank and did not come out, nor responded to Narayanaswamy’s shouts. Fearing that something had gone wrong, Narayanaswamy too entered the tank, but he too did not come out .
Manjunath, the fourth worker who had remained outside, realising that none of the three were responding to his desperate shouts, raised an alarm. A resident who heard his screams came out and alerted the fire personnel. After an hour-long rescue operation, the three bodies were recovered and sent to St John’s Hospital for postmortem.
George vows stringent action
Bengaluru Development Minister K J George has ordered a probe into the deaths of the three workers and assured stringent action against those responsible based on a probe. The minister also said `5 lakh ex-gratia would be paid to the families of the deceased. The residents of the apartment have also offered to chip in to help the victims’ families.