For over three decades, milk vendor K. Ezhumalai (55) has been taking the shortcut, a narrow pathway amid two walls, from Gandhi Nagar to his residence in Malligai Po Nagar, Adyar, after work. On a Saturday morning last December, his walk back home changed his life forever.
“I was returning home through the lane between the compound walls of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board pumping station and Chettinad Rani Lady Meyyamai School in Gandhi Nagar. Suddenly I heard an explosion and both the walls crumbled on me and a few others,” said Ezhumalai, who was trapped under the debris and the sewage that gushed out after a main pipe inside the pumping station exploded, leading to the wall collapse.
Ezhumalai lost his left arm in the accident and is now struggling to make ends meet. All he received was a meagre sum from some government officials and a promise of a big compensation.
“He was admitted to the Government General Hospital for 41 days and had to undergo four operations. The doctors said his hand needed to be amputated in order to save his life as the sewage water had damaged his muscle tissue,” said Nataraj, Ezhumalai's brother who is a painter.
A bachelor, Ezhumalai is taken care by Nataraj and his family members, who are running from pillar to post to seek compensation for the accident.
“I don't think he can get back to doing any hard jobs as he has lost his arm and suffered eight injuries on his head,” added Annam, wife of Nataraj.
Sources with the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board said the authorities concerned are following up on Ezhumalai's case with the Collector's office and the victim would be fairly compensated as soon as possible.
Chitra (42) from Malligai Poo Nagar, who was also injured in the accident, is awaiting a surgery on her hand.