BHUBANESWAR: In a tragic incident, two sanitation workers of a family died of suffocation while cleaning a sewer line of Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) at IRC village under Nayapalli police limits here on Wednesday.
The deceased were identified as Manas Naik (35) and his cousin Bibhuti Naik (22) of Siddheswari Basti under Sahid Nagar police limits. The two were employees of a private contractor hired by PHEO to clean the sewer line.
Manas, Bibhuti and Kapil (Manas’ younger brother) were engaged to clean the sewer line near Sapneswar Temple at IRC village. Bibhuti went inside the manhole first. While entering the manhole, he suddenly became unconscious and fell inside the sewer. Finding his cousin in trouble, Manas went into the manhole but he too got suffocated because of toxic gases in the sewer. Kapil waited for about 15 minutes. When none of them responded, he sought the assistance from locals, who pulled out the bodies from the manhole.
Manas’ father Shyama Naik said, "My son and nephew were engaged with the private contractor for more than two years. They were not provided headgear, safety apparatus or masks while cleaning the sewer lines.”
Shyama is also a sanitation worker with a private contractor hired by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. The contractor paid them Rs 350 for a day’s work from 12 noon to 5 pm, Shyama said.
Though Nayapalli police registered a case of unnatural death, no action has been initiated against the private contractor for whom Manas and Bibhuti were working. Contacted, IIC Suryamani Pradhan said, "The matter is under inquiry. If any fault is found, action will be taken against the employers.’’
Shyama, a native of Badamba at Athagarh in Cuttack district, came to the Capital City in 2000 and since then, he had been cleaning drains and sewer lines. Later, his son Manas and nephew Bibhuti also took up the job.