The stench of the kitchen waste treatment plant is something Praveen Yadav knows quite well. That the foulness would one day claim the life of his father was something he had never anticipated.
“The cleaning wasn’t a part of my father’s job profile, but he was made to do it twice a week,” Praveen stated.
Two men— Praveen’s father Rakesh Yadav and Ajay — died on Saturday after inhaling the toxic fumes from the kitchen waste plant at the Pirates of Grill restaurant in west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden.
Having worked in the same restaurant for three years, Praveen has firsthand experience of what happens there. “We are junior workers. How can we refuse the orders of our seniors?” he stated. Praveen now works at a mall nearby.
He said he was busy at work when he got a call from the restaurant. “I was told that my father was sick and I should come to Kukreja Hospital,” Praveen said.
“I rushed to the hospital and saw my father lying motionless. His shirt was open. Doctors indicated to me that he was no more. But the police misled me by saying that he was being treated. I haven’t seen his body after that,” Praveen said.
Praveen said earlier, the restaurant’s management would get people from outside to clean the treatment plant. However, that changed two years ago and the restaurant staff was made to do the cleaning of the kitchen waste plant.
“We were not provided any safety gear. We were just given a pair of gloves and an apron that we folded and tied around our faces while cleaning the plant,” Praveen said.
Despite repeated attempts, the management of the restaurant couldn’t be contacted for a comment.
Praveen is one of Rakesh’s three sons. The family hails from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and his father had been staying in Delhi for eight years.
“My mother still doesn’t know about his death. We have just told her that he is sick. I don’t know how to break the news to her,” Praveen tears up.
“My two brothers are appearing for their board exams. I don’t know how they will manage,” Praveen stated.
While Praveen tries to come to terms with his loss, the families of the two other injured men have an uneasy wait ahead of them.
“The police have been asking us to calm down and keep telling us that justice will be done. I just hope that no one else has to go through what we are facing,” Anil Verma, brother-in-law of Pankaj, one of the injured men, said.