Two daily wage labourers in Hyderabad died after they asphyxiated inside a newly-laid water supply pipeline near the city's Uppal cricket stadium.
The deceased were identified as Santosh and Vijay, daily wage labourers from Odisha, who had migrated to the city in search of employment. The two were reportedly living nearby in Chilkanagar area.
Speaking to TNM, Sub Inspector Krishna, who is investigating the case, said that they were hired to remove some silt and debris from the pipeline. However, it is yet to be ascertained who hired the victims.
"As they entered inside, poisonous gases inside the chamber resulted in suffocation. We have retrieved the bodies and sent it to the state-run Gandhi Hospital for a post mortem," the police officer said.
"We are yet to register a case but it will be done as soon as we gather all the details and file a preliminary report," he added.
The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) has taken note of the incident and ordered a probe.
Speaking to reporters, HMWSSB MD Dana Kishore announced that Rs 10 lakh would be sanctioned as compensation to the deceased families.
He also said that Water Board Technical Director Satya Suryanarayana would lead the investigation.
Ironically, this came even as Manhar Valjibhai Zala, Chairman of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis under the Ministry of Social Justice, Empowerment met with GHMC Commissioner B Janardhan Reddy in Hyderabad.
Officials were discussing the matter of Hyderabad being ranked the best capital in the country for â€˜best solid waste managementâ€™ by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in its Swachh Survekshan Awards 2018.
Last year, a study conducted by Basthi Vikas Manch suggested that there were at least 10,000 people in the city, who lower themselves into raw sewage, as part of their profession.
The study also said that there were 30,000 people who are employed to clean public toilets manually.
This included those employed to clean toilets at public places like railway stations and bus stops, along with those employed in the private sector, like schools and hospitals.
Another 50,000 people are employed by the GHMC as Solid Waste Management (SWM) workers, the study noted.
Last year, the Telangana government introduced 70 mini sewer-jetting machines with the intention to eliminate manual scavenging in Hyderabad.
Officials said that the machines will make the process of cleaning the clogged sewage lines easier, unlike the conventional machines.
Manual scavenging is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.