Four men hailing from Assam died of asphyxiation while cleaning an effluent-filled tank at a leather unit factory in Tiruppur on Sunday. According to reports, the factory in Karuppagoundenpalayam near Veerapandi, Tirupur, has an effluent treatment plant to recycle the used water from the factory.
The effluent treatment plant also has two other tanks to collect the solid waste that is pumped into the effluent treatment plant. On Sunday, seven employees of the unit were engaged in cleaning the waste collected in both the tanks.
Farooq, one of the employees, was engaged to clean the 20 feet-deep sludge tank, which according to The Times of India report, was not cleaned in the last five years.
Farooq soon collapsed inside the tank. Seeing him fall unconscious, three employees – Dilwar, Anwar and Abu – also got inside the tank to rescue him, and fell unconscious themselves.
Seeing the four men faint, three other employees who were cleaning the tanks, rushed them to a government hospital in Tiruppur. However, the doctors pronounced the three men brought dead. Dilwar died later in the hospital.
The deceased have been identified as Anwar Hussain Barbhuiya (24), Farooq Ahmed (22), Abu (21) and Dilwar Hussain Barbhuiya (23). The four men were from Cachar in Assam and were working in the unit.
Police told The New Indian Express that the owner of the unit, Jayakumar, would be interrogated soon. Sub-collector of Tiruppur, Senbagavalli also said that the permits and licences of the unit would be confirmed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the city corporation.
The police have booked Jayakumar under sections 287 (Negligent conduct with respect to machinery) and 304A (Causing death by negligence) of the IPC. The Corporation Commissioner of Tiruppur also assured investigation into the incident and sensitisation of factory-owners about the machines that can do the scavenging work.