Two months after four contract workers died after they entered a manhole of the Hyderabad Metro Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMW&SB) in Hyderabad's Madhapur area, it seems the Board hasn't learnt its lesson.
On Thursday, in contravention of standing rules, a 35-year-old man was sent in to clean a six-foot-deep manhole in Panjagutta.
The man, reportedly identified as Srinivas, was paid Rs 300 for the job and accepted it, despite being aware of the Madhapur incident.
"I don't have any other option, other than working like this. This is the only way I can feed my family," he told locals who first spotted him inside the manhole.
When confronted, the HMW&SB employee in charge claimed that "he knew what he was doing," and that he had been a manual scavenger for many years and had gone into much deeper pits.
"This is only six feet," the man is heard, saying in a short video.
Although Srinivas came out of the manhole without suffering any injuries, questions are being raised about why a man was sent in to manually clean manholes when an explicit order banning it was in operation.
After the August incident that killed four men, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) had officially banned the manual cleaning of drainage lines in the city, stating that only machines should be used.
A case had also been filed against the sub-contractor involved in that case for allegedly hiring unskilled labour. The government had also announced compensation of Rs. 2.5 lakh for the family of each victim.
Before that incident, two more workers had died of suffocation in May, while manually cleaning a manhole.