On March 28 evening, a 25-year-old man from West Bengal, was collecting recyclable material from large piles of garbage at the Bellahalli Landfill in Bengaluru. But soon died after being buried alive under a pile of garbage.
Mithun, a resident of Rajanakunte, had gone to their landfill at around 6.30 pm to collect recyclable waste from the pile of garbage.
A BBMP mechanized loading shovel, which was dumping garbage at the spot where Mithun was, dumped a huge pile of it on him.
“Mithun was not the only ragpicker there. He had gone along with five others. By the time they rushed to his rescue, he had died as he was completely covered under garbage and soil, making it difficult for him to breathe. Since it took them a while to wade through the piles of garbage, it was too late,” the Bagalur Police Inspector told TNM.
Ragpickers collecting recyclables is a common phenomenon across Bengaluru’s landfills. They collect metals, plastic and sell them in the scrap market, the Inspector added.
A case has been registered against the BBMP contractor, the driver of the earthmover and other officials concerned under Section 304 (A) (causing death due to negligence) of the IPC.
“According to the other ragpickers Harsha, Raju and Mushtaq, who were on the spot, Mithun had been frequenting the landfill regularly since three months as he and his wife were having their first child and he wanted to make more money to support both his wife and child,” a police officer said.
The driver of the mechanized shovel has also been booked under Section 304. But an official from the BBMP said that the driver of the earthmover was positioned inside a glass chamber which offered him limited view, and this is why he could not see Mithun in the vicinity.
"The glass chamber is located at a high position and he may not have seen the man. It was an accident but the damage has been done now," the BBMP official said.
It is unclear how ragpickers were allowed inside the landfill. Earlier this month, three men who had been given the task of cleaning a manhole had asphyxiated to death at the CV Raman Nagar area in Bengaluru.