A youth failed to spot an open drain pit beside a waterlogged road in Kankerbagh before dawn on Monday and died falling into it.
The victim, 20-year-old Sonu Kumar, walked into the roadside open drain pit just behind Patliputra Sports Complex — the venue of popular Pro Kabaddi ties — around 3am. A slum dweller, he had ventured out before the sunrise to answer to nature’s call.
The tragedy came to light once water receded from the locality and some residents spotted the body of the youth in the open drain pit around 6am. The family members of the victim blamed the Patna Municipal Corporation for the tragedy. Utterly shocked over the sudden death of her young son, Asha said: “Had the Patna Municipal Corporation officials covered the drain pit, my son would not have died.” Her voice choked soon after.
The pit in which Sonu fell down and died is connected to a drain whose renovation work started just before the Pro Kabaddi matches. But the civic body officials abandoned the work midway, leaving a death trap. Mourning the death of the youth, urban development and housing minister Samrat Choudhary said: “The matter is very serious. A young boy has lost his life. The Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner should initiate action against the erring officials responsible for the incident.”¯
Commissioner Kuldip Narayan could not be contacted despite several attempts.
Mayor Afzal Imam said: “The commissioner has no desire to work. Otherwise, he would have taken steps to cover manholes and open drains long ago. The standing committee approved Rs 1.8 crore for this purpose around eight months ago. Three months back, another Rs 36 lakh was approved but the commissioner could not get the job done. He does not attend the standing committee’s meetings and never executes the work approved by it,” said Afzal.
Before Sonu, the city lost two tender hearts in 2011 because of the negligence of the civic body. A three-year-old girl died after she fell into an open manhole on August 14, 2011 at the Lohanipur area. Three months earlier, five-year-old Roshan Kumar died falling into another manhole in the Bhootnath Road area on May 21, 2011. Three years on, history repeated itself in Kankerbagh on Monday.
Besides the open drain pit into which Sonu walked into and died, there are at least two more death traps in the vicinity of the accident site — two open manholes. Residents claimed that repeated requests to the civic body to cover them fell on deaf ears.
Jagdish Prasad Singh (65) a retired employee of the Central Water Commission and a resident of the area where the tragic incident occurred, was visibly upset with the corporation officials.
“I visited the Patna Municipal Corporation office several times, requesting the officials to cover the manholes and pits. Had they paid heed to my request, this tragedy could have been averted,” he said.
Singh said an elderly man had fallen into a nearby open manhole on Saturday. He, along with his neighbours, rescued that person.
Ashok Kumar, another resident of the area, said one more person had fallen into one of the open manholes last year and suffered serious injuries.