The NHRC has taken “suo motu cognisance of a media report that in Rajasthan two labourers died while conducting the repair work of a leaking valve in the 25 feet deep well of a sewage treatment plant of Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) in Kalwar area on 18th November”.
The commission, while appreciating the commendable work done by the police official in pulling out one of the victims from the sewerage well, is of the view that prosecution against the responsible persons or agency whether public or private, is mandatory under section 304A of the IPC, who engaged the victims in hazardous cleaning without safety gear, the statement said.
Accordingly, the NHRC has issued notices to the chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP) of Rajasthan as well as the chairman, JDA, seeking a report within four weeks, it said.
The chief secretary is expected to intimate whether any relief or rehabilitation has been provided to the family of the deceased. He is also directed to intimate whether the advisory issued by the commission is being implemented in the state, it added.
The DGP is expected to inform about the present status of the FIR registered in the matter and action taken against the responsible officers or agencies. The commission would also like to know the health status of the third victim, who is reportedly under medical treatment in a hospital, it said.
“The JDA chairman has been asked to submit report about the initiation of disciplinary action against errant public servant(s) under relevant service rules, due to whose culpable negligence two precious human lives were lost for not having been provided with the safety equipment,” the rights body said.
“According to the media report, there was a complaint of leakage and the victims, who were cousins, were deputed to attend the work without providing any safety equipment to them. The well is reportedly 25 feet deep in which the victims had entered to undertake the work and when they were trying to tighten the valve of the mainline, it broke, resulting in the sudden flow of the sewage garbage which flooded the well and both the victims came under it,” the statement said.
The NHRC had issued an advisory on September 24, 2021 about the ‘Protection of Human Rights of the Persons Engaged in Hazardous Cleaning’ to the Centre, state governments and local authorities with an object to ensure complete eradication of this unhygienic practice.
In the advisory, it is specifically mentioned that in case of any sanitary work or hazardous clearing work, the local authority and the contractor or employers are to be held responsible and accountable, jointly and severally, irrespective of the type of hiring/engagement of the sanitary workers.
The NHRC has expressed serious concern that despite it constantly insisting the authorities to get such hazardous work done with the help of machines, it is being done manually without protective gear resulting in the loss of life almost on daily basis in different parts of the country, the statement said.