CHENNAI: Three middle-aged men died of asphyxiation on Sunday after they reportedly entered the underground septic tank of an industrial kitchen in Katrambakkam near Sriperumbudur in Kancheepuram district.
The deceased were identified as Murugan (42) and Bagyaraj (40) of Katrambakkam, and Arumugam (50) of Amarambedu, all of them daily wage labourers. Murugan and Bagyaraj belong to a Scheduled Caste.
Although a police officer said it was not a septic tank they had entered but an area used for storing wet waste from the kitchen, Somangalam police registered a case under Section 304 (2) of the IPC (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Sections 7 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers Act, 2013, and Section 3 (punishment for offences of atrocities) of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
The owner of the space and the operator of the kitchen were said to have been arrested on Sunday but police refused to confirm this to TNIE citing “confidentiality”.
According to police sources, the kitchen operator used to cater food to employees of companies in the neighbourhood. On Sunday, the trio was called in to clean the tank. Murugan first entered the tank and fell unconscious, police said, adding that the other two who went to his rescue also fell unconscious after inhaling "gases".
On information, police and fire and rescue services personnel rushed to the spot and sent the bodies to the Government Sriperumbudur Hospital for postmortem examination. An investigation is on.