Delhi sewer deaths: Victims had no safety gear

A day after five men were killed cleaning a sewage treatment plant (STP) at a housing complex in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar, police arrested a supervisor and said the workers were not provided safety equipment.

Madhup Tewari, joint commissioner of police (western) range, said the stringent Indian Penal Code (IPC) section pertaining to culpable homicide not amounting to murder (304) has been added to the FIR.

“In the absence of an eyewitness, we had initially registered a case under section 304A (causing death due to negligence), but that has now been corrected after it became clear that no safety precaution was taken,” said Tewari.

Police have also booked the suspects under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act has also been incorporated into the FIR.

An investigator said four of the five dead men were working as STP operators and fitters, while the fifth was from the housekeeping department at DLF Capital Greens in Moti Nagar.

“Umesh was from the housekeeping department and he was forced to enter the STP. The others did not offer much resistance even though manual scavenging is banned,” said the investigator.

“The arrested man, Ajay Choudhary, works as a supervisor with JLL, a services firm that had offered contract to different agencies for housekeeping, maintenance of the STP and other works. We are searching for the other people from two agencies who we believe were responsible for the deaths. We will be making more arrests soon,” said Tewari.

Police’s probe revealed one sub-contracted firms was headed by a man named Praveen who turned out to be the uncle of Raja — one of those killed. Praveen and his colleagues are absconding, said Tewari.

Responding on behalf of JLL, an official, Shailendra Varma, said, “We have offered our cooperation to authorities and are carrying out our own internal investigation.” He did not respond to specific questions posed by HT.

The Delhi government ordered a probe into the deaths. Labour minister Gopal Rai directed the labour commissioner to submit a report within three days. Rai also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the dead.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 01:56 IST

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