TN: Two die of asphyxiation in sewer pit

Two masons plastering the sewer pit of a new house allegedly died of asphyxiation in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, sources said on Tuesday.

An investigation into the matter has commenced.

G. Iyanar (38) and K. Manikantan (35) died at Kondur village in Villupuram on Monday. The duo was plastering the sewer pit of a new house being built by a local person, Sekhar.

Superintendent of Police, Villupuram, Sreenatha said that the police will be registering a case against the house owner after the investigation is completed.

Police said that it was not clear whether the duo died due to lack of air circulation in the sewer or on inhaling toxic gases from the adjacent sewers.

The house that was being built was adjacent to a building which houses a grocery store. Police are investigating whether the sewer of that building had toxic gases inhaling which the two died.

Notably, 48 people have lost their lives to manual scavenging in Tamil Nadu between 2017 and 2022. The state ranks second to Uttar Pradesh which has lost 51 people to the banned act.

Manual scavenging was first banned in India in 1993 and it became a punishable offense in 2013. Anyone employing a manual scavenger directly or indirectly would be punished with imprisonment for a period and a fine of Rs 50,000 or both.

The DMK had, in its manifesto for the 2021 Assembly elections, promised that manual scavenging would be eradicated permanently and sanitary workers transferred to other jobs.

However, even after this, several people have lost their lives and in Sriperumbudur, three people from a colony died while cleaning a sewage that was almost filled with human excreta.

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