‘Forced to clean drains without safety gear’: Coimbatore sanitation worker posts shocking video

A two-minute video of the worker clearing a blockage in a storm sewer without any protective gear was shared on social media, after which the concerned sanitation supervisor was suspended.

A conservation worker in Coimbatore has alleged he was forced into a storm drain and cleared a block without being given protective gear. The allegation was made by Subramani, a worker from the 78th Ward of the Coimbatore Corporation. After a video of him cleaning the drain surfaced on social media, the concerned sanitation worker was suspended by Coimbatore Corporation Commissioner Raja Gopal Sunkara.

In a video statement, Subramani said there was a block in a drain located on the main road in Perur. “Dharman, Senthilkumar and I were sent to clear the block. When we said the block was inside the drain, we were told that was what we were sent for and told to complete the task. So we did. However, no protective equipment was provided to us. After the video of the incident surfaced on social media, we were asked to sign a document saying we were doing the job on our own,” he said.

“About 700 houses would have been affected if the blockade had not been removed,” Subramani said, while adding that the equipment provided to them is frequently damaged due to the nature of their work and that they do not did not do the work voluntarily.

The incident took place on March 19. On the morning of Tuesday, March 22, workers were asked to sign a blank paper by sanitation supervisor Manickam, they alleged. Dharman, who accompanied Subramani on this particular cleanup job, said Manickam asked them to regularly send photos and videos of their work as “proof” that they were working. “After the video leaked, he threatened to fire us. But the video was not leaked by us,” he added.

In time-stamped video of the incident, a person – apparently Subramani – is seen slipping under a slab to enter a drain and saying “keep the cellphone safe”. In the nearly two-minute video, he is seen cleaning up trash blocking the drain, climbing up and removing trash with a stick.

Speaking to TNM, Ambedkar Union General Secretary Tamil Nadu Selvam claimed that workers are still advised to clear these blocks in sewers without proper protective equipment. “We have filed several complaints with the commissioner. Only certain workers in the places where the commissioner’s inspection takes place receive the appropriate equipment. Otherwise, no one cares,” he said.

A conservation worker from the company’s 76th Ward also made the same allegation. “We are given gloves and foot guards as protective equipment once every two months or when the contract changes from person to person. However, the equipment does not even last five days,” he said.

Selvam said workers were constantly at risk because it happened regularly. “Entering a drain without removing the slabs that cover it and carrying out the cleaning work while another person is taking a video is extremely risky. Once the block is removed, the water flows with such force that it poses a threat to their lives,” he said.

When contacted, Manickam refuted the allegations and said he only asked for “before and after” photographs. Regarding protective equipment, he specifies that they are provided but that the workers do not wear them, citing “inconveniences”. “In this case, I didn’t force him to do anything. I wasn’t even there, you can see that for yourself in the video,” Manickam said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Raja Gopal Sunkara issued a press release stating that the relevant sanitation supervisor had been suspended and a committee reporting to the company’s welfare officer had been set up to investigate the matter. the incident.

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