The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that four sanitation workers have died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewage tank in Budha Khera village in Hisar district of Haryana.

The Commission has issued notice to the Chief Secretary of Haryana, calling for a detailed report on the matter within six weeks. The report is expected to include the action taken against the responsible officers and relief granted to the families of the victims.

The Commission has observed that the incident indicates that despite the avoidable and unwarranted deaths in sewers; and sheer indignity of the work, hazardous cleaning of septic tank without safety equipment continues.

The Commission has been emphasizing upon use of machines for cleaning septic tanks, sewage plants etc. and to ensure proper safety equipments for the workers but such painful incidents are taking place frequently.

Due to negligence and apathy by the authorities concerned, precious human lives have again been lost. Their human rights have been grossly violated.

The Commission has noticed that in this case, the victims are in the age of 25 to 28. Deaths of such young men in these kind of tragic incidents could be averted had proper precaution been taken by the responsible authorities. Such incidents are indeed indicative of reckless attitude of the civic authorities violating human rights of the poor and innocent workers.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that a large number of workers have died within a short span of time while undertaking the sewage/ septic tank cleaning work. It has been taking cognizance of such matters for quite some time now and trying its best to sensitize the authorities to take all precautions during the time of cleaning of the sewage tanks so that precious human lives are not lost.

Further, the Commission observed that in spite of specific judgments given by the Supreme Court and guidelines issued from time to time by different government agencies, the sewage cleaning workers are still being exposed to extreme danger and subjected to indignity by the public authorities.

National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 23-4-2022]

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