Neighbours say manhole left uncovered for over a month despite complaints

The fact that our streets are not safe for our children was painfully underscored as a six-year-old had a close shave when he fell into a manhole right in the middle of the road on 21st Cross in Ejipura on Monday evening.

It was sheer providence that a passerby pulled out the UKG student who had the presence of mind to cling to the edge with the rest of him immersed in slime and sewage.

Poorly lit street

Chandramouli K., son of software professional Suryanarayana Murthy and Lalitha, had gone out to play around 6.30 p.m. Speaking to The Hindu, the still-shaken mother said: “He had gone cycling in the evening as usual. Later, his friend took the cycle and was riding it while Chandramouli [trotted] behind him. As it was dusk and the road ill lit, he did not see the manhole and fell right into it. It was filled with waste, most of it sanitary waste.”

10-foot-deep

She said she reckoned the manhole to be 10 feet deep. His screams brought a passerby to his help and the child came home shocked, crying and soaked. He was later taken to a hospital and brought back home. “There are two streetlights near the manhole but on Monday evening both were not functioning. As it was dark, he said he could not spot the manhole and fell into it.”

Residents furious

Livid residents of the area said the manhole had been left uncovered for more than a month despite many complaints. Angry over authorities’ apathy, they pointed out there are two schools here. “The Chavara Church School is located just 10 feet away from the manhole and another kindergarten school, Kids Paradise, is also located nearby. Any child can fall in,” a neighbour fumed.

Ms. Lalitha said residents continuously tried calling local councillor Saroja Veerappa, but her phone was switched off. Right now the manhole is covered with an asbestos sheet, which is hardly the ideal solution, she said.

Members of the All India Human Rights Organisation also gathered at the area and demanded that the manhole be closed permanently. “This could happen to anybody tomorrow and the civic body must take necessary measures immediately,” said Seethalakshmi, a member.

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