2 die while cleaning septic tank in east Delhi: Police

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New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) Two men died after inhaling toxic gases allegedly while cleaning a septic tank of a banquet hall in east Delhi's Ghazipur area, police said on Friday.

Lokesh (35) and Prem Chand (40), residents of Trilokpuri, entered the tank to clean it on Thursday evening and were subsequently found dead inside, the police said, adding that the deceased were not given any protective gear and were offered Rs 3,000 for the work.

Three people have been detained in connection with the incident -- Rahul, a housekeeping staff, Aamir Khan, the general manager and Jimmy Arora, the owner of the banquet hall. They are being interrogated presently and action will be taken based on the outcome of the probe, the police said.

'The housekeeping staff of the banquet hall called the two men for cleaning the tank at 7.30 pm and around 10 pm, they were found dead,' Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Deepak Yadav said.

Teams from the Fire Department, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority and MCD visited the spot, he said, adding that the two men were taken to a hospital, where they were declared brought dead.

The family members of the deceased have alleged that the men, who had gone for catering related work at the banquet hall, were forced to clean the septic tank and were not given any protective gear.

The officer said, 'We have spoken to the family members and have asked them to give a complaint in this regard. We are looking into the matter.' Amit Kumar, who is a cousin of the deceased, Lokesh, alleged that his brother and the other person had gone there for catering work but they were forced to clean the septic tank for the money.

Lalit Kumar, another cousin of Lokesh, said that asking the two men to clean the septic tank was illegal and alleged that there was no one to supervise when they entered the tank.

'I called up my cousin after midnight on his mobile phone but someone else answered and told me that he had fallen inside the septic tank and was unconscious. They did not tell me that he had already died. On reaching the spot, I found out that my cousin was no more and authorities had already taken the bodies out of the tank,' said Lalit.

He further said 'They had gone for catering and from what we know, the two men were asked to clean the septic tank as well. Firstly, this is an illegal act and they made them do it late night. No one was even around when they entered the septic tank. They were not even given any protective gear.' A case under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act has been registered, the DCP said.

Lokesh is survived by his wife, a nine-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. They hail from a village in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr and were staying here in Trilokpuri on rent, a family member said.

The bodies have been handed over to the families after post-mortem, police said, adding further investigation is underway. PTI AMP AAR AAR