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New Delhi : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of the media reports that four men lost their lives by inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewer tank under inhuman conditions at an apartment complex in West Delhi on September 7, 2018.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi, and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, calling for a detailed report in the matter. The NHRC would also like to know about the action taken against the authorities responsible in the matter along with measures taken for relief and rehabilitation of the next of kin of the deceased and the injured person who has been hospitalized.  The response is expected within four weeks positively, according to an NHRC release.

The Commission has observed that it had taken suo-motu cognizance in a similar matter in 2000 and after discussions with various departments had finalised “Guidelines and Safety Code for Operation and Maintenance of Sewerage Systems” for compliance by the authorities concerned. The Commission has been emphasizing on the authorities to take strict action to provide safety gear to the workers to avoid such fatal accidents. The instant incident has occurred in the National Capital. Due to negligence by the authorities and the contractor concerned, the right to life of four innocent persons has been violated, it said.

As per the news report, carried on September 10, 2018, the incident took place at DLF Capital Greens Apartment in Moti Nagar area of Delhi when five persons: Vishal, Sarfaraz, Pankaj, Raja and Umesh were sent to clean the tank. Two of them : Sarfaraz and Pankaj, entered the tank without safety gear and fell unconscious. When they did not respond for some time, Raja and Umesh were sent to look for them and they too fell unconscious. Thereafter, Vishal was reportedly asked to go in and check. He climbed in and started yelling for help after he realised that he too was about to pass out, stated a police officer.

The fire officials received a PCR call around 4:20 pm and four fire tenders were pressed into service. After reaching the spot, the fire officers came to know that two men were taken out by the public. Others were rescued by them and all of them were sent to a hospital in West Delhi. As stated by the Deputy Commissioner of Police concerned, four men were declared brought dead at the hospital while the fifth injured was referred to the RML Hospital for treatment.

It is mentioned in the news report that no safety equipment were provided to the workers and they only used ropes and clothes to cover their faces when they entered the tank.  They were employed by a contractor, who has reportedly fled away after the incident, and the workers were not trained in cleaning the sewer.

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