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Three die of asphyxiation

Special Correspondent



Mourners and relatives of the three workers who died of asphyxiation staging a road blockade in front of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Tuesday.

Coimbatore: Three workers who were engaged in cleaning the septic tank of a private hotel at Peelamedu on Avanashi Road here died of asphyxiation early Tuesday. The incident caused concern among officials; that despite an Act and a court order prohibiting it, workers were asked to enter the tank for manual scavenging.

Police said R. Ashok (17), A. Karthik (21) and K. Anand (24) of Kamarajar Nagar in Ramanathapuram in the city were working with a private sewage removal truck operator. They were on night duty to clean the septic tank of the hotel. Sewage was sucked into the lorry, but the three were asked to clean what could not be removed by the suction equipment for an additional wage of Rs. 50 each.

The conservancy workers started getting into the tank one by one and when none of them returned, the supervisors sensed something was wrong. All the three were found lying unconscious inside the tank. The police and the fire and rescue services rushed to the spot and found that the three were dead. The bodies were sent to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for post mortem.

The relatives of the deceased led by District Convenor of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front U.K. Sivagnanam staged a road blockade demanding Government relief for the bereaved family members. They also demanded action against the sewage lorry operator and employment for one member each from the family of all the three who died.

Mayor R. Venkatachalam, Deputy Mayor N. Karthik and Corporation Commissioner Anshul Mishra visited the scene of occurrence and held an inquiry.

Rural Industries Minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy and Collector P. Umanath visited the CMCH and consoled the bereaved family members. Meanwhile, the police have invoked Section 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (negligence causing death) and Section 3 of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993 against the Assistant Manager of the hotel, H. Kumaran (48) of Mettuppalayam, C. Ananthakrishnan (42) and S. Bharathkumar (38) of Ramanathapuram, both sewage truck owners.

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