No Value for Lives? Manual Scavenging Kills Three at a TN Hotel

Hudson Hotel in Kanchipuram had illegally asked the three men to clean the hotel’s septic tank.

2 min read
Image used for representational purposes. 

The ban on manual scavenging remains largely on paper, despite scores of deaths in the recent past. On Wednesday, 14 February, three people died while cleaning the septic tank of a hotel in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. The cleaning personnel, who have been identified as Murugesan and Maari, along with a Hudson Hotel employee Ravi, have been declared dead.

The incident took place around 1:30 pm on Wednesday as the men were cleaning the semi-solid portion of the tank. According to the police, the hotel had given the contract to Chem Ethic Solutions, a cleaning company in Chennai. Five workers had been dispatched by the company to Hudson Hotel to clean the septic tank.

Speaking to The News Minute, one investigating officer said:

While the cleaning of the liquid portion had taken place in the morning through tankers, the bottom level was the semi-solid portion. They tried to flush it out with fresh water. Four of the employees were inside during the flushing.
Investigating officer

According to the police, when the smell of gas emanated from the semi-solid waste, two men managed to come out. But the other two fell unconscious. When Ravi, a hotel employee, went to rescue the two men, he too fell down in the tank. The three men were declared brought dead at the hospital.

The two employees who managed to come out of the septic tank are doing fine, according to the officer.

A case under the Prohibition Of Employment As Manual Scavengers And Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 will be registered. The operations manager and supervisor of the hotel have been arrested.

The Prohibition Of Employment As Manual Scavengers And Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 not only bans employment of people to clean human waste but also includes imprisonment of up to five years for those employing a manual scavenger.

According to a Times of India report, data submitted by Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri in Rajya Sabha shows that Tamil Nadu ranks the highest in the number of deaths due to manual scavenging. “Of the 323 deaths reported across the country since 1993, 144 were from Tamil Nadu,” says the report, quoting the Minister.

However, despite these laws, manual scavenging deaths continue to occur in the state.

According to a TOI report on the mortality rate in Tamil Nadu, “11 deaths were recorded, of which five were in Chennai while cleaning septic tanks; two people died in Virudhunagar, and one each in Madurai, Thiruvallur, Trichy and Villupuram districts.”

The incident in Tamil Nadu comes just a day after two deaths due to manual scavenging were reported in Bengaluru. Three more men had died in Bengaluru on 7 January, after they had gone down a manhole inside the premises of ND Sepal Apartments at Somasundara Palya in HSR Layout.

(This article was originally published on The News Minute. It has been republished with permission.)

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