Toxic gas, lack of safety equipment cost workers their lives in Thane

Updated: May 11, 2019, 15:02 IST | Anamika Gharat

Just a week after three workers died after inhaling poisonous gas in Nalasopara, tragedy strikes again in Thane

Toxic gas, lack of safety equipment cost workers their lives in Thane
Police inspect the tank where the three labourers died;

A contractor's negligence and the alleged indifference of the housing society that hired them has cost three workers their lives. The trio, migrants from Haryana, died when they suffocated in a sewage tank they had to clean at the society in Dhokali, Thane, on Thursday. Kapurbawdi police, who registered a case against the contractor and arrested him, said the workers had not followed basic rules and did not have safety equipment.

The trio, aged between 20 and 24, were hired with five other workers to clean the tanks in a sewage treatment plant (STP) operated in the posh Pride Presidency at Thane. The STP was constructed by the builder and is being operated by the society from March 2012. It is learnt that while the workers were not provided safety equipment, the contractor, Dilip Patil, also chose to make them work from afternoon into the night. The dead were identified as Amit Puhal, 20, Aman Badal, 21, and Ajay Bumbak, 24. The other workers, also from Haryana, are Vijendra Hatwal, 25, Manjit Vaidya, 25, Jasbir Puhal, 24, Rummer Puhal, 30 and Ajay Puhal, 21. Amit had married recently.

Also Read: Mumbai Fire Safety Audit: Your house could also become a fire trap

The labourers were cleaning the tank at Pride Presidency in Thane. Pic/Sameer Markande
The labourers were cleaning the tank at Pride Presidency in Thane. Pic/Sameer Markande

'No safety equipment'

Thane Regional Disaster Management Cell in-charge Santosh Kadam also blamed the housing society for their 'indifference.' He said, "The society gives its annual maintenance work for the STP to a private contractor. It was going on since Thursday afternoon and continued in the night. After dinner the labourers went to work in the intermediate tank, where water that comes out of the secondary treatment tank is stored. They could not survive because of the gas in the tank. They were not provided with any safety equipment such as masks. Society members only want work to be done at a low cost. They should have checked whether these workers had safety quipment."

Kapurbawdi police station Senior Inspector A V Deshmukh said, "The labourers didn't take into consideration the gas in the tank which was 12 feet deep and had water upto 2 feet. The three workers died in seconds. One of them who was brought out was taken to Metropol Hospital." He was later discharged.

The other workers who are distraught at losing their friends
The other workers who are distraught at losing their friends

'Help their kin'

The rest of the labourers are distraught after losing their friends. They all stayed at Bhayandar. Jasbir Puhal recalled the incident and said, "We started work around 3 pm. Till 10.30 pm we cleaned three of four tanks. After dinner Amit Puhal decided to go first into the tank. But he did not respond so Vijendra went inside. He couldn't breathe so he banged on the side of the tank. Aman managed to pull him out and saved him. Aman and Ajay Bumbak then went in to get Amit. But even they couldn't breathe. I immediately called our contractor and the building chairman who called the Fire Brigade."

The Fire Brigade brought the bodies out. "We cannot work all the time with masks on, so we avoid wearing them. But for this work we weren't given any masks. My friends were hardworking and the only breadwinners in their families. The contractor or the society members should help them. Aman and Ajay Bumbak had recently joined us. Some of us have been doing this tank cleaning work since our childhood, so we were very sure about the work," said Jasbir Puhal, who is in shock.

Also Read: Toxic gas, lack of safety equipment cost workers their lives in Thane

Police said the workers did not take into account the gas in the tank while working at the society in Thane. Pics/Sameer Markande
Police said the workers did not take into account the gas in the tank while working at the society in Thane. Pics/Sameer Markande

Society speak

Suman Marsana, a committee member of the society, only said, "We called them to clean the tank. We didn't know they did not have safety equipment. We didn't force the contractor to do the job at night, it was their call."

12ft
The depth of the tank that the workers entered

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