Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought action taken report (ATR) from Odisha government in connection with the death of two workers due to asphyxiation engaged in manual scavenging at Bhubaneswar last month.

The commission has directed the State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to submit the action taken report within six weeks from the date of receipt of this letter.

The directive came in response to a complaint filed by Puri-based rights activist Akhand. In his petition, the complainant alleged that the company engaged in providing service of maintenance work of sewage did not provide adequate equipment like oxygen masks which led to this mishap.

The apex rights body referred to a judgment of the Supreme Court given in the case of Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors vs UoI on March 27, 2014. In its direction, the top court directed that a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to be given to the family of the deceased.

In the action taken report, the State Chief Secretary has been asked to furnish the proof of payment of Rs 10 lakh each paid to NoK of deceased persons, details of departmental action taken against the delinquent public servants, and steps taken by the State government to prevent such deaths.

Similarly, the State top cop has been asked to apprise the commission through the ART report about the status or outcome of the criminal case and whether FIR under Section 7/ 9/ R/w 22 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 has been registered in the case.

Notably, two labourers hailing from Mayurbhanj district, who were engaged in the maintenance of the sewage tanks at Brahmeswar Bagh area under Badagada police limits in the city died of asphyxiation on March 19.