New Delhi: Two contractual workers died and three others were hospitalised after apparently inhaling toxic gas when they entered a septic tank at a house in northwest Delhi on Tuesday, police said.
Investigations revealed that a person named Gulam Mustafa owns a semi-built plot at Bhagya Vihar area of Prem Nagar in Rohini. He started construction of a house a few days back, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Rohini) S.D. Mishra said.
The plot has a 10-foot-deep septic tank, in which Mustafa and a mason named Rambir allegedly asked two labourers to go inside for cleaning in the afternoon. The labourers refused to clean the tank since they were not trained, but they were forced to enter after being blackmailed with not getting paid three days of wages, the DCP said.
The labourers went inside the tank and fell unconscious. When Rambir did not get any response, he also went inside along with two others and suffered the same fate due to poisonous gases, the officer said.
The five were rushed to a hospital, where two — Deepak Lambu (30) and Ganesh Saha (35) — were declared dead. Rambir (33), Sher Singh (40) and Babloo (40) are under treatment, but the latter’s condition remains critical, he said.
A case has been registered and a probe is underway. A crime and forensics team also visited the incident spot. It is also being ascertained whether the labourers were wearing safety gears, the DCP said, adding that the bodies of the deceased had been sent for post-mortem.
Family of labourers allege nobody helped them
Soni was going to deliver lunch around 1 pm to her husband who was working as a labourer in northwest Delhi, but she was in for a rude shock.
“When I reached the location, I could not find anyone there,” Soni, the wife of Sher Singh (30), said. “When I looked into the septic tank, I saw that all the five persons were lying there. I started shouting, but nobody came to rescue.”
Soni’s husband was among three persons who are hospitalised. Soni said her sister’s husband came there and entered the tank after tying a rope around his west, and pulled the persons out of the tank.
They called the ambulance and took them to a hospital, the mother of four said, adding that Sher Singh is the sole breadwinner.
Soni said among the injured persons, Rambir is her brother-in-law, who is unmarried and used to live in the same locality.
“After getting the information regarding the incident at around 1.15 pm, I rushed the spot and cried for help but no one came forward,” Jaya Vardha, the sister of Sher Singh and Rambir, said.
“We somehow managed to call the police and ambulance, and immediately rushed them to the hospital,” the 59-year-old said. “My brothers were doing this work for the past 20 years and nothing like this happened before.”
Vardha, who is a daily labourer, is living in Delhi for the past 25 years and her native place is Haryana.
“We got to know that all the victims were wearing masks. Ganesh and Deepak entered the tank first. When they did not come out, Sher Singh, Babloo and Rambir also entered the tank. Soni was the one who first saw them lying inside the tank and called nearby persons for help,” Vardha said.
Babloo’s 30-year-old wife, Nutan, said she is a daily worker and was at the steel factory when the incident happened. “I have five kids and my 13-year-old daughter informed me about the incident at around 1.30 pm and I rushed to the hospital,” she said.
Nutan said her husband had done this work first time.
Manish (25), the nephew of Babloo, said: “I received a call from the family and they asked me to come. I reached the hospital where I got to know that my uncle is undergoing treatment”.
Babloo is living at Bhagya Vihar area since 1998. His native place is in Bhagalpur district in Bihar, Manish added.
Ganesh and Deepak, who died in the incident, were also used to live in the same area. Ganesh survived by his wife and five kids while Deepak was married.