Tamil Nadu Woman Falls in a Septic Tank, Dies. Cause of Death? No Toilet in Her Office

Social Commentary

Tamil Nadu Woman Falls in a Septic Tank, Dies. Cause of Death? No Toilet in Her Office

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Shoddy infrastructure at a government agricultural depot in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district claimed the life of a 24-year-old woman employee on Saturday, December 5. The depot had been built without basic amenities, including ramps and toilets. This forced the employees to use toilets in nearby houses, which is what S Saranya was attempting to do when she slipped and fell into a septic tank at a construction site. She worked at the depot as a warehouse manager. When she failed to return to the office, her colleagues went looking for her and rescued her from the septic tank. Saranya was rushed to Kancheepuram Government Hospital but it was too late, and she was declared brought dead.

The glaring lack of infrastructure at the government office would force all the women employees at the depot to find their own means of using the toilet, and this oversight has now claimed Saranya’s life. Speaking to The Quint, Saranya’s father Shanmugan, said, “I can’t believe her dreams will never be realised. I can’t believe she is gone because there was no toilet. I cannot express my anguish.” Saranya’s family staged a protest outside Kancheepuram Government Hospital, demanding compensation for their loss, as well as a government job for one member of the family.

Kancheepuram’s District Collector has ordered a probe into the incident. According to a report by The News Minute, the Tamil Nadu state government has allotted ₹90 crore for renovating the agricultural depots. In the same report, state Agricultural Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi is quoted saying “The government last year instructed the officials to check the sanitation in the depots. However, most of the depots have the infrastructure and wherever there are no toilets, the district officials are instructed to ramp up the infrastructure so that such issues do not happen.”

Saranya’s tragic death is an urgent reminder of how India’s sorry sanitation infrastructure impacts women more severely than men.