Police claimed that the supervisor who was present on the spot to oversee the cleaning “did not follow protocol.”
CHENNAI: A 47-year-old man died of asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank at an apartment complex in Karapakkam on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, Wednesday.
Two persons were booked and one person was detained in connection with the case, said the police.
The deceased has been identified as Senthilkumar from Kundrathur.
A private apartment complex that has about 270 houses had hired a private sewage cleaning contractor to clear the septic tank. The contractor engaged Arul (47) and Praveen (20) from Kovilambakkam along with Senthilkumar.
On Wednesday morning, the trio entered three manholes inside the apartment separately. While Arun and Praveen came out of the respective tanks, Senthilkumar complained of breathing difficulty due to noxious gas and stepped out. However, he fainted immediately. The other workers called the ambulance service and he was rushed to the Royapettah Government Hospital, where doctors declared him dead on arrival, a police officer said.
Kannagi Nagar police reached the spot and conducted an investigation. Police said the supervisor who was present on the spot to oversee the cleaning did not follow protocol. Police registered a case for offences including under section 304(i) (Culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sections of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Police detained two persons, including the manager of the contracting firm. Further investigation is underway.
How it happened
On Wednesday, three men entered manholes inside the apartment complex separately. While Arun and Praveen came out of the respective tanks, Senthilkumar complained of noxious gas and stepped out, said a police officer. However, he fainted immediately.
In July 2022, the Centre disclosed that 188 people have died while undertaking hazardous cleaning of sewer and septic tanks since 2019.
According to the data shared by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale in the Lok Sabha, 116 deaths due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks occurred in 2019, 19 in 2020, 36 in 2021 and 17 in 2022.