Labourers were working to unclog a drain in Bhandup in preparation for monsoons, but got trapped in a low-oxygen area
Three labourers, who had ventured inside a sewer line near the Eastern Express Highway in Bhandup to repair and clean it for the approaching monsoons, suffocated to death in the drain in the early hours yesterday. The BMC claims they were working in an erroneous manner, which is what led to their death.
The manhole near the highway in Bhandup (East) through which the labourers had climbed down into the drain. Pic/Prashant Waydande
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has been carrying out drain repair works for a month now, so as to avoid waterlogging caused by clogged drains during the rains. On Sunday, seven labourers had gone into the manhole around 3 am to reinforce it.
At the end of the job, three of them were breaking a temporary wall created to block drainage while the repairs were under way for restoring unhindered flow inside the sewer, when the mishap occurred.
When the trio did not emerge from the manhole after a long time, their colleagues outside went in and pulled their unconscious bodies out. They were rushed to Rajawadi Hospital, but were declared dead on arrival.
Flaw in the works
The accident happened because the method in which the work was being carried out, say BMC officials, was wrong.
During repair of sewers, a temporary wall of gunny bags is created to stop the flow while the labourers carry out the work. After the work is over, it is taken down from the top so toxic gases do not affect labourers, officials elaborated.
In Sunday’s case, however, the labourers worked from the bottom up while taking down the gunny bags, and this led to their death. The deceased have been identified as Sonu Pradhan (32), Dhanshra Samdhi (30) and Ramkrishan Binsmat (47).
Sunil Sardar, executive engineer of BMC’s Sewerage Operations, said, “The workers were finding it tough to destroy the temporary wall, so we were planning to demolish it by a JCB.
But the labourers tried to break it from the wrong direction. We usually carry out such work from the manhole itself and do not go down, but they went where the oxygen level was very less and poisonous gases had formed.”
He added, “We are yet to decide on the action to be taken against the contractor, and will take a call by Monday.” Dr Sanjay Wathore, forensic surgeon at Rajawadi Hospital, said, “The bodies were brought to us and autopsy was performed.
We have preserved their blood samples as there are chances of finding toxic gases in them, and they have to be tested before the cause of death can be stated.”