A man in his early 50s died after he fell into an open manhole in the Seven Tanks area of Dum Dum on Friday night.
Ranjan Saha, au autoriskshaw driver, was returning home after completing his day’s trips when he fell in the gaping manhole on a footpath, police said.
A section of the local residents said the spot where the manhole was located was not well illuminated.
Alarmed at his scream, a few residents came to his rescue and rushed him to the RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries around 4.30am on Saturday.
“It was close to 10pm. One of our para youths who was nearby ran to his rescue. Since Ranjan had a heavy build, the first responder called a few others and together they dragged him out,” said Chandra Sekhar Saha, a local resident.
A resident of Bediapara in Dum Dum, Ranjan was the lone earning member of the family.
Firhad Hakim, the acting chairperson of the board of administrators of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, said the police were probing the incident.
Open manholes have been an old problem in Calcutta.
The manhole in which Ranjan fell on Friday night is situated on a footpath adjoining Dum Dum Road with a boundary wall of the Seven Tanks estate on one side.
The railing of the footpath was broken at this spot and the concrete cover of the manhole remained positioned on the wall, suggesting that someone one had opened it.
Civic officials passed the blame to residents.
A senior official of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s sewage and drainage department said maintaining manholes in this part of north Calcutta was a challenge.
“A section of these residents usually open these manhole covers to relieve themselves and then either leave them open or steal the covers,” the official said. “The PWD maintains them with the CMC’s help.”
The PWD said they have replaced at least 12 manhole covers in the area in the last eight months. “Replacing manhole covers in this part of Dum Dum has become a regular affair. Within weeks of replacement, the cover is either removed or stolen away,” said a senior engineer of Calcutta North sub division.
The officials said the manholes in the area — dotted by shanties, police quarters, government housing estates and housing complexes — were around five-and-a-half feet deep on average.
They are used to maintain the sewer line that lies underneath Dum Dum Road and finally opens on the upper Bagjola Canal that runs from Kamarhati to VIP Road.
Pushpali Sinha, the acting ward coordinator of the area, could not be contacted. Several calls to her by this newspaper went unanswered.