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8 lac compensation to the family of the sewage worker who died from suffocation inside a sewer chamber and contractor banned for 7 years

Date : 28/04/2015

Public Interest Litigation No. 21728 of 2015 “Abhijit Chaterji Vs. Sate of U.P. & Others.


A news report was published in a daily Hindi & English News Paper on 10.April.2015 in which some photographs with a news regarding the sewage worker who died inside the manhole. A fact finding team was constituted and a report was prepared by the law students working with the Human Rights Law Network after visiting the place and meeting the family members of the deceased. Victim Basant Kol was hired for the work by a contractor. He was instructed to measure the depth of the manhole to connect the sewer pipeline. The victim remained inside the sewer chamber for close to 2 hours only after which the rescue team arrived that to without any safety equipment to pull the victim out of the manhole. And after almost two hours another fire brigade came and then the victim was lifted out of the sewer chamber and found him dead. The death of the victim was from the flowing of current and presence of hydrogen sulphide gas which usually forms in manhole, wells or any space which is below ground level or has inadequate ventilation. The sewage worker working in the manhole must have helmet, torch, oxygen mask, jacket, rope, hand gloves and gum boots which is mandatory but in a present case nothing was provided and he was forced to enter into the manhole in his own ordinary clothes.

Case summary

The Public Interest Litigation was placed before the division bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and J. Manoj Gupta on 18.4.15.
In the present case court was in a view that, “The court has been apprised by the learned Chief Standing Counsel of the fact that, an enquiry has been ordered by the Superintendent Engineer of the Jal Nigam and which is likely to be completed within a day or two.
Having regard to this aspect we deem it appropriate being further hearing, to direct that counter affidavit be filed n these proceedings on behalf of the Respondents the counter shall clarify the genesis of the incidence. The court shall also be apprised of steps which have been taken in the mean time for the payment of the compensation the heirs of the decease, the court having been orally apprised by the learned Chief Standing Council that an amount of 2.5 lac Rs. was paid. Both the Jal Nigam and Nagar Nigam shall state what safe guards are laid down to ensure the safety of such workers and weather necessary protective equipment is provided to them to obviate such incident”. The next date of hearing was 28.4.2015 the following order was passed, to provide 8 lac rupees compensation to the deceased victim family and the firm of the contractor was blacklisted for 7 years and a guidelines was issued for the safety of the sewage workers.

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