NHRC takes suo motu cognizance of the reported death of three persons inside in a septic tank

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  • The reported death of three persons inside in a septic tank was due to electrocution in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
  • Reportedly, the workers were repairing a motor without safety equipment
  • Notice issued to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttar Pradesh calling for reports

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report, carried on 9th June, 2024 that three workers died after they went down a private septic tank of a food outlet in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh on 8th June, 2024. Reportedly, they were electrocuted while repairing a motor inside the septic tank without any safety gear. They were hired by a private contractor.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to a violation of the human rights of the victims. The negligence on the part of the contractor and the local authorities has caused the loss of three lives. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that the workers are still being exposed to life-threatening acts at the behest of the public authorities without the necessary safety equipment.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter. The report is expected to 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 authorities.

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 in Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors. v/s. Union of India and Others (WP(C) No. 583 of 2003) provides the specific mandate that it is the responsibility and duty of the local authorities and other agencies to use modern technology for cleaning of sewers, etc.

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