Police have sought some details from the Delhi Jal Board for its probe into the death of three workers while cleaning a sewer line in southeast Delhi's Lajpat Nagar yesterday, even as the board maintained that it hadn't authorised any agency to carry out the work there.
Police said the contractor, who employed the workers, had been on the run and that a manhunt had been launched for him.
"We have sought details from the Delhi Jal Board about the contract. The contract to clean the sewer pipe was awarded to either an agency or a private contractor. We are awaiting its reply," said a senior police officer.
Delhi Water Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, however, said that the DJB did not have any work in the area.
"It did not even authorise any agency or contractor to carry out work there. The DJB uses mechanical cleaners to desilt big drains. In cases, where machines cannot reach, beldaars are pressed into service," he said.
The minister also claimed that even beldaars are allowed to enter sewers only after being equipped with proper safety gears such as gas detectors, masks, gloves and gum boots.
Even when a private agency is awarded any such work, the tender document lays down these terms and conditions, he added.
Earlier in the day, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) chairman Manhar Valjibhai Zala directed the Delhi Police to invoke relevant provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in the case.
He said that by invoking the legislation, family members of the victims would be entitled to seek compensation admissible in such cases.
The relevant sections of the Act, as stated by the Commission, have been added to the FIR, said the police officer.
Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa today announced a compensations of Rs one lakh each to the families of the three workers -- Joginder (32), Annu (28) and Mohan alias Manu (25).
A fourth worker, identified as Rajesh, who had also inhaled the toxic fumes, was declared out of danger.