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How contractual sewer worker succumbed to his gruesome profession in Narela, Delhi

By Sanjeev Kumar* 

Bijendra, aka Bobby, aged 47 lost his life doing a doleful job of cleaning the sewers at around 01:00p.m. in Pocket -3, Sector A-9 of Narela, Delhi on March 19, 2021. He had been in the profession for almost 10 years. He was the lone bread earner in his family and an only parent to his three minor daughters; after the death of his wife, approximately five years ago.
Bijendra was accompanied by his colleague Vinod, alias Mota, to his daily work on 19th March, 2021. The work had been in progress for a couple of days under a private contractor named Manoj Sharma, who was given the contract by Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The workers had not been facilitated with any safety/protective equipment by their contractor.
At the time of the incident, the two workers and the contractor were at the incident spot, who later was accompanied by the Action Officer Vinay Kumar from DDA. Vinod stated that they had opened two gutter lids, prior to opening the third one which led to Bijendra’s demise. He said that a gust of toxic gas hit Bijendra after which his oxygen level depleted and he immediately felt dizzy. He was suggested to rest, but he insisted on continuing the work.
Vinod informed the contractor Manoj of Bijendra’s declining condition, when he felt it was severe. Bijendra was offered water to drink for relief and some of it was sprinkled onto his face as well. Bijendra’s condition stabilized for a while, and he again tried to continue his work, but once again fell on the ground because of light-headedness. 
Vinod dragged him and made him sit against a wall to rest. As he continued his work, he looked back to check on Bijendra, when he noticed that Bijendra’s mouth had lathered up and he had excreted in his trousers.
A rickshaw was hailed to take Bijendra to the nearest government hospital named after Raja Harishchandra; where on arrival, he was declared dead by the doctors. The police were called immediately to inform about the matter, and an FIR was filed at Narela Police Station. 
Thereafter, Bijendra’s colleague Vinod and their contractor Manoj Sharma were interrogated till 11:30pm at the Narela Police Station. The acquaintances of Bijendra tried to contact a local body  engineer  named Sant Ram, but he did not respond. The post-mortem was conducted on March 20, 2021; the report of which is pending.
Bijendra’s neighbour and distant relative, Deepak Kumar, talked about the financial crunch at the deceased’s home, and said that the orphaned girls could not even afford to cremate their father as per the Valmiki rituals. So, the neighbours had contributed for Bijendra’s last rites.
Neither any official from the Delhi government came to visit the victim's family to offer their condolences, nor did the DDA authorities give any consolation.
---
*Secretary, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM)

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