The incident took place at a pharmaceutical company located at Industrial Development Area, Uppal.

Photo of Bheema who died of asphyxiation
news Crime Friday, November 20, 2020 - 17:03

The inhuman practice of manual scavenging claimed yet another life in India as 35-year-old Malothu Bheema was killed in Hyderabad’s Uppal area on Friday. Another person, identified as Bhukya, is critical. The incident took place at around 12.30 pm, according to the police. Both Bheema and Bhukya — belonging to the Scheduled Tribes community — came to clean a drain in Telangana Pharma, a pharmaceutical company located at Industrial Development Area, Uppal. However, while cleaning the drain, they could not breathe and fell unconscious. Those working at the facility noticed this and immediately pulled them out. Unfortunately, Bheema succumbed instantaneously, while Bhukya was shifted to a private hospital. Uppal Inspector Ch Ranga Swamy told TNM that Bhukya’s condition is “critical.”

The body of Bheema was shifted to Gandhi Hospital, police said. The police are yet to register a case regarding the incident. Manual scavenging is a punishable crime. The practice is banned under the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. As per the Act, no person shall engage or employ, either directly or indirectly a manual scavenger. 

Those who violate this law are punishable with one year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 50,000, or both. For repeating the same offence, the imprisonment is for two years or a fine of Rs 1 lakh, or both. In the Act, a “manual scavenger” is defined as a person engaged or employed for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrine is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises.

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale had revealed in the Rajya Sabha in 2019, that 110 persons lost their lives due to manual scavenging — with the highest deaths of 21 recorded in Uttar Pradesh. Last year, the minister also said that over the five years leading up to 2019, the death count in Tamil Nadu stood at 144, more than double the number of casualties reported by Uttar Pradesh, the next highest state at 71.

Telangana had reported zero cases. However, most of the manual scavenging deaths go unreported, activists say.