NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission on Monday sent a notice to the Delhi government over the death of a contractual sanitation worker after he got trapped in an underground drain while cleaning it in Wazirabad, officials said.
The NHRC said that reportedly, workers at the site were "not provided safety gear, such as face masks, breathing apparatus, uniforms and other equipment."
The drain, reportedly, comes under the Irrigation and Flood Control Department of the Delhi government.
"Allegedly, 22 people have died in the city while cleaning sewers, septic tanks and rainwater harvesting pits over the past two years," the rights panel said in a statement.
The 37-year-old sanitation worker was identified as Kishan, a resident of Shri Ram JJ cluster here.
The commission said it has issued a notice to the Delhi chief secretary, asking him to submit a detailed report in four weeks in the case, as well as other similar incidents over the past two years in the city.
"The report should also specify the legal action taken against the persons, who had employed the victim in sewerage cleaning without providing him with proper safety gear.
He has also been asked to inform about specific steps taken to stop such incidents in the future," the statement read.
The commission has also observed that it is the statutory responsibility of the state to provide protective gear to workers involved in cleaning of sewage.
"Despite legal provisions as well as the Supreme Court's guidelines safeguarding the interest of sewage cleaners, precious lives have been lost due to the apparent lack of supervision and lackadaisical attitude of the authorities," the statement said.
The incident took place on Sunday and teams of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Delhi Fire Services were deployed to locate the body.
Investigations revealed that Kishan, who died of suffocation, was hired by a contractor to clean the Wazirabad drain.
A case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at the Wazirabad police station and efforts are on to trace the contractor, police said Sunday.