The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe into sewer death

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has ordered an inquiry into the death of a labourer, Mahabir Prasad Mahato, who fell into a manhole in the Regent Park area on Saturday morning.

Mayor-in-council member (drainage) Rajib Deb said on Sunday that the CMC will try to find out how the incident occurred and also probe whether there was any fault on the part of the senior civic officials handling the cleaning drive of underground drains.

Deb said the civic body had decided to offer compensation to the family of the dead labourer. “We have also decided to give a job to his next of kin,” Deb added.

Relatives of Mahato reached the city on Sunday morning and his body was handed over to them. He was cremated at Keoratala.

Deb said that the civic inquiry into the death will try to ascertain whether adequate measures had been taken by the senior civic officials before Mahato was sent into the manhole. “Before dropping any labourer into a manhole, he is tied with a rope around his waist and his colleagues, who operate from above, are supposed to hold the rope so that the labourer working underground does not fall and slip into the underground drain. We will try to find out whether the system was followed in the case of Mahato on Saturday,” Deb informed newspersons.

He said that he had instructed all the boroughs under the CMC to follow the rules strictly while deploying any labourer into underground manholes for the cleaning operation.

“We will also try to reduce our dependence on labourers in cleaning the underground drains and manholes and engage machines for the job,” Deb added.

The previous CPM-controlled CMC had decided to purchase specially-designed uniforms to protect the labourers working in the manholes from death or any other fatal injuries. But the decision of the previous civic body was not implemented by the existing body, run by the Trinamul Congress.

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