Uttar Pradesh: While cleaning a septic tank, four people died from breathing in hazardous fumes.

While cleaning a septic tank, four people died in the UP.

09-05-2024, Thurs.

The tragic incident in Uttar Pradesh where four people died while cleaning a septic tank due to inhaling hazardous fumes is a stark reminder of the ongoing issue of manual scavenging and the lack of adequate safety measures for sanitation workers in India.


According to the reports, the incident occurred in Kushinagar district, where four individuals fell into the septic tank and succumbed to the toxic fumes. This is not an isolated case, as similar incidents have been reported across the country, with 308 people dying while cleaning sewers and septic tanks over the past five years.


The data presented in Parliament shows that the highest number of such deaths have occurred in Tamil Nadu (52), followed by Uttar Pradesh (46), Haryana (40), Maharashtra (38), Delhi (33), and 23 each in Karnataka and Gujarat. 

This highlights the widespread nature of the problem and the urgent need for comprehensive action to address it.


Despite the ban on manual scavenging under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the practice continues to persist in various parts of the country. The government has provided compensation to the families of 240 victims over the last five years, and 225 FIRs have been registered under the relevant laws. However, the minister stated that these cases are still at different stages and have not reached a logical conclusion.


The decline in budgetary allocation for the Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, which aims to identify and provide alternative livelihoods to manual scavengers, is also a concerning trend. This suggests that the government’s efforts to eradicate this practice and ensure the safety of sanitation workers may not be adequate.


The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of recent incidents in Haryana and Gujarat, where seven sanitation workers died while cleaning septic tanks and drainage lines, and has sought reports from the state governments. This underscores the need for stricter enforcement of safety protocols and the provision of proper safety gear for sanitation workers.


In conclusion, the tragic incident in Uttar Pradesh is a grim reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by sanitation workers in India. Urgent and comprehensive measures are needed to eradicate manual scavenging, ensure the safety of sanitation workers, and provide them with alternative livelihood options.

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