KOZHIKODE: Nearly 18 months after Naushad choked to death while cleaning a manhole here, his family is yet to come to terms with the tragedy.
The mishap claimed three lives in all—two contract ‘safai’ workers hailing from Andhra Pradesh and the hapless Naushad, who rushed to save the workers trapped in the manhole while hundreds of citzens watched in dismay.
The Kerala government’s promise of a clerical job to Naushad’s wife in the Revenue Department is yet to materialise.
Death came calling on November 26, 2015. Auto driver Naushad, 32, and two other contract workers gasped their last in a manhole near Palayam in Kozhikode. The latter two had climbed down the manhole to measure the water level in it during maintenance of a sewerage treatment plant (STP) without any safety gear. Naushad, who had rushed to help, tripped into the manhole and the three eventually died of asphyxiation.
Police had submitted a chargesheet against three people in the sewage company, which undertook the maintenance work. Post the tragedy, all upkeep work, not to mention construction of manholes, in the city has come to a grinding halt, as funding has dried up.
The authorities maintain manual scavenging is not practised in the city.
They also aver to be extra-cautious regarding the safety of workers when construction and maintenance of STP work resumes.
“In the future, we’ll ensure the agencies undertake the work in strict compliance to stipulated safety guidelines for workers. Also, we’ll consider innovative techniques available in the market to reduce manpower for such works,” KV Baburaj, corporation standing committee chairman (health), said.
Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) is the implementing agency of the STP here.
“Since the 2015 accident, we’ve strictly enforced safety norms for sewage companies. But construction has hit a roadblock,” K Mohan, project manager, KSUDP, clarifed.