Manual Scavenging is banned across India, but that hasn't stopped people in various places from making human beings enter manholes and sewers.

Bengalurus shame 3 men killed in a manhole in posh residential colonyOne of the three men who died in Bengaluru.
news Manual Scavenging Sunday, January 07, 2018 - 17:50

In a gross violation of human rights, three Bengaluru men who were engaged to manually clean a manhole by apartment dwellers in a posh south Bengaluru locality, died on the job.

Manual Scavenging is banned across India, but that hasn't stopped people in various places from making human beings enter manholes and sewers.

Narayana Swamy (35), Mahadeva Gowda (42) and Srinivas (52) died after they had gone down a manhole inside the premises of ND Sepal Apartments in Somasundara Palya in HSR Layout.

Mahadeva Gowda (42) succumbed while he was being taken to Columbia Asia Hospital while the bodies of Narayana Swamy and Srinivas were recovered by fire and emergency personnel from the manhole.

The bodies of the three deceased have been kept at the St John’s Hospital for post-mortem.

An FIR has been registered at the Bandepalya Police Station under section 304A (causing death by negligence) read with section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC.

“At the moment we do not know the cause of death. All we know is that the incident had occurred around 10.30am, Post-mortem will be conducted and only then can we know about the cause. The police have been informed. In most of these cases, asphyxia is the primary cause of death,” Dr Sanjiv Lewin Medical Superintendent, St John’s Hospital told TNM.

"Septic tanks are enclosed areas with decomposed domestic wastes, sewage and resultant gasses. Methane is extremely toxic in high concentrations apart from hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, carbon dioxide and others. Toxicity causes asphyxia at cellular levels, which damages vital organs rapidly and kills," he explained.

Bengaluru Mayor N Sampath Raj told TNM, ”There is negligence by the apartment owners. The workers did not have any protective gear. This is a human rights violation, They should not have done this. The concerned apartment association president and the vice-president have been detained by the police. Investigation is going on and action will be taken.”

“Tomorrow onwards we will advertise in newspapers informing that such violations will no longer be tolerated and strict action will be taken,” the Mayor added.

Other than the Mayor, Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George also visited the accident spot.

However, this is not the first incident of death due to this barbaric practice.

In March 2017 too, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body, the BWSSB which had outsourced those three persons to manually clean the sewer.

Back then, Clifton Rozario, a lawyer advocating the cause of these workers had said, “It is the social circumstances that compels them to clean another person's waste. We as a society are equally responsible for the deaths. Not just that, the society is equally responsible for this. As far as the urban elite are concerned, they want their dirt to be cleaned and do not bother about who does it in what condition. The blood of these men are on our hands.

Employing a manual scavenger has been made a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine since 1993, and The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013, and a Supreme Court ruling state the same.