A labourer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) drowned while cleaning a manhole at the Netaji Nagar crossing in the Regent Park police station area. Police, CMC and fire brigade officers carried out an extensive search and recovered the body four hours after the incident. Firemen said the labourer might have been swept away by the flow of water in the underground sewerage line.
As the news of the incident spread, members of the mayor-in-council went to the spot. Hundreds of local people, too, reached the site and staged a demonstration before the CMC officers protesting their “callousness”.
According to police, 35-year-old Mahabir Prasad Mahato, a resident of the Regent Park area, along with three other labourers, were cleaning the underground sewerage line of Shantinagar Road. The labourers first opened the manhole around 9.30 am. “Mahato fell into the manhole while trying to get into the underground drain,” said an officer of Regent Park police station.
The other three labourers tried to reach Mahato by stretching their hands. They called out his name but there was no response. “We tried to peer into the drain. But it was pitch dark inside,” said another labourer.
On hearing the shouts of the labourers, local people informed the police station. The CMC men, including chairman of borough 10 Arup Biswas, mayor-in-council Rajiv Deb and councillor Archana Bhattacharya, went to the site. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee directed that an extensive search be launched for the missing labourer.
Firemen, who reached the spot an hour after the incident, had to wait for divers who reached three hours late. The divers, later, searched in vain for Mahato.
Then, CMC officers decided to start the Shantinagar pump. “The water helped flush out the body, which was recovered in front of Shantinagar pumping station—100 metres from the manhole through which he had slipped,” said Rajiv Deb, mayor-in-council. Councillor Biswas said the sewerage system in the Regent Park area collapsed recently because of Metro Railway extension work.