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NHRC issues notice to TN govt over death of sanitation workers


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday said it issued notices to the Tamil Nadu government over reported death of three sanitation workers.

Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports that three workers were asphyxiated to death while cleaning a septic tank at an under-construction house in Gandhi Nagar area in Karur district on November 15, the Rights body said it issued notices to the state Chief Secretary, Director General of Police (DGP) and the Municipal Commissioner of Karur, calling for reports in the matter.

They have been given six weeks to respond, the Commission said in a statement.

The NHRC asked the CS to submit an action taken report regarding fixing the responsibility/accountability of the concerned authorities, who had entrusted the cleaning of the septic tank in the construction site, besides the details of compensation and rehabilitation provided to the next of kin of the deceased.

The report should also specify the awareness and sensitisation camps initiated by the state Government to provide security covers to workers involved in hazardous cleaning of sewer/septic tanks etc., as well as the welfare schemes initiated or to be initiated by it for such sanitary workers, as per the release.

Action taken report must also contain implementation of the advisory issued by the NHRC on September 24 last year about the protection of human rights of the person engaged in hazardous cleaning and its outcome, it said.

The DGP has been asked to report the status of the FIR filed in this connection, arrest, if any; whether contributory culpable negligence has been included in causing death, by invoking Section 304-A of IPC against the private or public persons, involved in engaging the deceased workers for cleaning of the septic tank in the under-construction house without safety gears, it added.

The Municipal Commissioner has to submit a report specifying the public servants involved in the culpable negligence causing death by not enabling the workers to use safety gear and protective equipment while cleaning and the disciplinary action initiated against them as per the prevalent service rules, the Rights body said.

The NHRC 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.

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