Manual scavenging saga: Now, three killed in Cuddalore manhole

By K Ezhilarasan| Express News Service | Published: 21st March 2017 05:58 AM
Fire and rescue department personnel pull out the bodies of the three contract workers who died in the manhole on Monday | Express

CUDDALORE : Blatant violation of laws banning manual scavenging by authorities and private contractors continues to take its toll on human lives. After five persons died inside manholes in Bengaluru and Vijayawada, three manual scavengers were killed in Cuddalore on Monday while trying to clean up the drainage system.

The workers were hit by toxic gases and died of asphyxiation while carrying out repair works in the underground drainage system. 

Three contract workers -- Velu (28), Jayakumar (27) and Murugan (28) were involved in the repair of the underground drainage system, damaged by NHAI’s road laying works, on Monday evening. “Velu entered the manhole first, followed by Murugan,” say sources who witnessed the incident.

“As both fell unconscious, Jayakumar entered the manhole to rescue them. Sadly, he was also hit by the toxic gases and fainted. The passers-by then informed the fire department.” 

The fire department rushed to the spot and took the trio to the government hospital, but the doctors declared them dead. Blame game over the death started immediately. “Though the underground drainage system was handed over to the Cuddalore municipality by the TWAD Board, we had pointed out some defects and had asked them to rectify them.

The system is still under the control of the TWAD Board. This repair work was also being carried out by the Board and the contractor hired by them should have provided safety equipment to the workers,” say sources at the municipal office. 

The relatives of the deceased persons staged a road blockade and demanded `20 lakh compensation for each lost life. They also demanded government jobs and action against erring officials and contractors.

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