09/20/2022, 16.36
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Three Dalit manual scavengers die from toxic tank fumes in Uttar Pradesh

Despite a 2013 law banning manual scavenging, members of disadvantaged castes are still forced to perform humiliating and dangerous work. The three victims were working without protective gear. According to government data, at least 347 sanitation workers have died in India in the last five years.

Lucknow (AsiaNews) – Three men in their early twenties died from inhaling toxic fumes in an unused septic tank in Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state where manual scavenging is still widespread.

This type of activity is usually reserved for Dalits and members of disadvantaged castes, who are rarely provided with the necessary safety equipment.

When the accident occurred, the three were cleaning an unused tank without any protective gear at the site of a house under construction in Barra, Kanpur district.

After one worker entered the tank and fell to the ground unconscious, another entered to save him but he too lost consciousness. Finally, the third man went into the tank to save his colleagues but met the same fate, death by asphyxiation from toxic fumes.

The three are Amit Kumar, 25; Ankit Pal, 22; and Shiva Tiwari, 25; all from the same district.

Police opened an investigation against the building owner and contractor with possible charges of culpable homicide for violating a 2013 law that expressly bans manual scavenging and promotes the rehabilitation of workers engaged in such an activity.

According to India’s union (federal) government, at least 347 sanitation workers have died in the country in the last five years with Uttar Pradesh as the worst offender – the greatest number of deaths, 116, was reported in 2019, followed by 92 in 2017.

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