Sewage Workers Death: NHRC notice to chief secretary of UP

Sewage Workers Death

Sewage Workers Death: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that three workers drowned in the sewage treatment plant of a multinational IT company in Greater NOIDA, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. Reportedly, they fell and drowned into the tank of the sewage treatment plant while repairing a submersible pump to fix overflowing sewer.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise serious issues of violation of the rights of the victims. Apparently, the authorities have failed to be alert and conduct proper supervision keeping an eye on such hazardous activities in which the workers were deployed to undertake such dangerous work.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within one week. It should include the status of the FIR registered in the matter, action taken against the responsible persons as well as relief and rehabilitation provided to the next of kin of the deceased workers by the employer and the authorities concerned.

The Commission has been consistently advocating a total ban on activities of hazardous cleaning without adequate and proper protective/ safety gears or equipment and also has advocated suitable use of work friendly and technology based robotic machines, besides fixing responsibility and accountability of the concerned authorities in case, death is caused to any sanitary worker while undertaking hazardous cleaning work.

To that extent, the Commission issued an Advisory on 24th September 2021 about the ‘Protection of Human Rights of the Persons Engaged in Hazardous Cleaning’ to the Union, State Governments, and local authorities to ensure the complete eradication of such practice.

In the advisory, it is specifically observed that in case of any sanitary work or hazardous cleaning work, the local authority and the contractor/ employers are to be held responsible and accountable, jointly and severally irrespective of the type of hiring/ engagement of the sanitary workers.

Besides this, the decision given by the Apex Court, Dr. Balram Singh vs Union of India (WP(C) No. 324 of 2020) dated 20.10.2023, provides the specific mandate that it is the duty of the local authorities and other agencies to use modern technology for cleaning of sewers etc.

According to the media report, carried on 25th June 2024, the workers were in their twenties. They were deployed at the sewage treatment plant of the company as part of its maintenance team for the last two years.