No value for lives? Manual scavenging kills 3 more in TN
The incident took place around 1: 30 pm on Wednesday as the men were cleaning the semi-solid portion of the tank. According to the police, the hotel had given the contract to Chem Ethic Solutions, a cleaning company in Chennai. Five workers had been dispatched by the company to Hudson Hotel to clean the septic tank.
Speaking to TNM one investigating officer said, “While the cleaning of the liquid portion had taken place in the morning through tankers, the bottom level was the semi-solid portion. They tried to flush it out with fresh water. Four of the employees were inside during the flushing.”
According to the police, when the smell of gas emanated from the semi solid waste, two men managed to come out. But the other two fell unconscious. When Ravi, a hotel employee went to rescue the two men, he too fell down the tank. The three men were declared brought dead to the hospital.
The two employees who managed to come out of the septic tank are doing fine, according to the officer.
A case under the Prohibition Of Employment As Manual Scavengers And Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 will be registered. The operations manager and supervisor of the hotel have been arrested.
The Prohibition Of Employment As Manual Scavengers And Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 not only bans employment of people to clean human waste but also includes an imprisonment of up to five years, for those employing a manual scavenger.
According one Times of India report, data submitted by Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri in Rajya Sabha shows that Tamil Nadu ranks highest in the number of deaths in manual scavenging. “Of the 323 deaths reported across the country since 1993, 144 were from TN,” says the report quoting the Minister.
However, despite these laws manual scavenging deaths continue to occur in the state. According to a ToI report on the number of mortalities in the state, “11 deaths were recorded, of which five were in Chennai while cleaning septic tanks; two people died in Virudhunagar, and one each in Madurai, Thiruvallur, Trichy and Villupuram districts.”