VCK & CPI stage road roko over sewage gas leak deaths in Pondy

As the protest caused traffic congestion for an hour, the police intervened and cleared the protesters forcibly.
CPI, VCK cadres protest in Reddiyarpalayam in Puducherry on Wednesday
CPI, VCK cadres protest in Reddiyarpalayam in Puducherry on Wednesday(Photo | Sriram R)

PUDUCHERRY : Protests continued in Puducherry for the second day after three persons from Pudhu Nagar had died due to inhaling toxic gas leaked from underground sewer lines on Tuesday.

Communist Party of India and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi cadres on Wednesday morning gathered at Pudhu Nagar entrance, demanding an inquiry by a retired judge into the incident. Further, they called for the ruling government to resign and sought action against the PWD officials concerned. As the protest caused traffic congestion for an hour, the police intervened and cleared the protesters forcibly.

The day before, several Pudhu Nagar residents staged a blockade on Puducherry-Villupuram Road at the same spot, demanding an inquiry. The protests continued until midnight, only after which the police managed to pacify them.

After evacuating the residents, police, fire service personnel, and workers from the municipality, revenue, and public works department inspected the sewage lines. Sources said two teams were formed under Collector A Kulothungan and PWD chief engineer M Dheenadayalan to conduct an inquiry into the issue.

Hydrogen sulfide in sewage lines

A team from the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee, led by member secretary Dr N Ramesh, inspected the houses of the deceased and the affected residents. They examined for toxic fumes in toilets but found nothing. However, upon inspecting the manholes in the area, the team detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide. The manholes were then opened to release the gas. Sources said that toxic and flammable gases like hydrogen sulfide can naturally form in vacuum voids inside sewage lines.

RAM

Meanwhile, health department officials conducted door-to-door inspections in Pudhu Nagar on Wednesday, screening the residents for symptoms such as headache, drowsiness, and vomiting. Oulgaret Municipality provided the residents with portable toilets as they were told not to use the toilets in their houses. The government primary and aided higher secondary schools in the area remained closed on Wednesday.
Speaking to TNIE, the collector said they are yet to confirm the results as the investigation is in progress and that additional details cannot be revealed at the moment.

Funeral held

The bodies of the deceased -- Senthamarai (80), her daughter Kamatchi (45), and A Selvarani (15) -- were handed over to the respective families on Wednesday, and their funerals were held the same evening. Most of the residents from the area took part in the rituals. Police personnel were deployed for safety measures. Selvarani's family fulfilled her wish of wearing a gold nose pin before her final procession, which deeply moved everyone present at the funeral.

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