Tamil Nadu has recorded the highest number of deaths due to manual scavenging in the past five years and that number increased on Friday. Two daily wage labourers in the state’s Nagapattinam district asphyxiated to death while one has been admitted to hospital in a critical condition after they were employed to work on an underground drain pipe.
According to the police, the incident took place near the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) Colony on Nambiyar Road near Velipalayam in Nagapattinam. A police officer told TNM that the colony was recently constructed and the Nagapattinam Municipality has been carrying out underground drainage maintenance works in front of the colony for the past few days.
On Thursday afternoon, three daily wage earners Sakthivel (30), Madhavan (35) and Sandeep alias Sridhar (40) were clearing out some blockage in the pipe when suddenly the three men fainted in quick succession. Some workers who noticed them rushed to rescue the three men. Others, meanwhile, alerted the police and called for an ambulance.
A police officer told TNM, “When we went there, Sakthivel and Madhavan were unconscious and Sandeep was struggling to stay conscious. We rushed all the three of them to the Government Hospital at Nagapattinam, where Sakthivel and Madhavan were pronounced dead. Sandeep is in critical condition.”
The police registered an FIR under Section 174 of the CrPC (Unnatural death) and are investigating the incident. The three labourers are suspected to have inhaled toxic gases while clearing out the pipe. Their bodies have been sent for autopsy.
Tamil Nadu has recorded the highest number of deaths due to manual scavenging in the last five years, according to the data presented in the Parliament in February. According to the data, the number of people who lost their lives to this social evil from 2013 to 2018 stood at 144. This number was double the number reported in Uttar Pradesh, the state that had the second-highest number of deaths due to manual scavenging.