A month after three men died cleaning a manhole in Bengaluru, another incident of manual scavenging has been reported in the city.
On Tuesday, two men, who had gone down to clean the septic tank of a restaurant in ACS Layout, died within minutes of entering the tank.
At around 4 pm, the caretaker of Hotel Yumlok in ACS Layout had asked two daily wage workers - Ramu (25) and Ravi (28) to get down the drainage tank and clean up the clogged drains.
“The waste from the kitchen and toilets had clogged the drainage pipes. Initially, Ramu let down a rope and went down the septic tank. A few minutes later, there was no sound coming from there. That’s when Ravi got worried and he went down to see what had happened. A few minutes later, there was no sign of Ravi as well. The hotel manager then called fire and emergency services, who alerted the us,” said HAL Police Station Inspector Mehaboob.
The two men were rushed to Vydehi Hospital in Whitefield, where they were declared brought dead. “The bodies were to be taken to Bowring Hospital for an autopsy but currently, the postmortem is also happening at Vydehi Hospital itself,” DCP Whitefield Abdul Ahad said.
Both Ramu and Ravi, who are from Raichur, had come to Bengaluru for work. The two men were not equipped with safety gear, police say.
The HAL Police have arrested the restaurant owner Avinash Gupta and the caretaker Venkatesh for negligence amounting to death. The manager Ayush Gupta has also been booked.
Yumlok manager Ayush Gupta and caretaker Venkatesh
According to DCP Whitefield Abdul Ahad, the restauraunt was built in the basement of the building and had violated the safety measures prescribed by the BBMP Health Department. "We have secured the BBMP health officer for questioning as well," the DCP added.
Police say that the two victims were were pourakarmikas with Bengaluru's civic body - the BBMP. A contractor had allegedly taken away their passbooks and ATM cards, and as a result, the two men resorted to manual scavenging to make a living, said a police official.
Bengaluru has witnessed multiple incidents of manual scavenging deaths in the past year.
On January 7, Narayana Swamy (35), Mahadeva Gowda (42) and Srinivas (52) died after they had gone down a manhole inside the premises of ND Sepal Apartments at Somasundara Palya in HSR Layout.
In March 2017, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body - BWSSB - which had outsourced the three persons to manually clean the sewer. Two more persons were killed in May 2017 in Ubdur village in Mysuru and one person in an apartment in Whitefield.