Residents vent ire at Vijayawada Municipal Corporation after boy falls to death in open drain

Published - November 10, 2023 09:46 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

A six-year-old boy died after falling into a drain near his residence at Old Rajarajeswaripeta on Wednesday night.

The boy, identified as Sheik Suleman Ashraf, was playing outside his home on Wednesday night when he went missing. His mother Sharmila and her neighbours began looking for him, and his body was recovered from the drain after a long search.

Locals outraged

The boy’s death sparked outrage among residents, with many saying that their repeated complaints to municipal officials that drains were being left open and uncovered fell on deaf ears.

“It is sheer negligence of the officials that led to the boy’s death. The issue of open drains was brought to the notice of the VMC officials on several  occasions. They were requested to build a wall and cover the drain, but no action was taken. A young, innocent life has been snatched away,” said Kumar, a local.

Lakshmi, another resident, said that the municipal corporation was neither clearing the silt nor covering the drain. “The corporation is solely responsible for the boy’s death,” she said.

Subhani, the deceased boy’s father, said that they searched for him till midnight. “We never thought of looking in the drain,” he said, wiping away tears. Sharmila has been in a state of shock ever since, staring transfixed at the drain that took her son’s life.

Cesspool of filth

The drain itself has become a cesspool of filth, with silt and garbage piling up and blocking the free flow of sewage water. As a result, a stinking smell pervades the area, said Ramakrishna, a resident.

“We request the VMC officials to construct walls on both sides of the drain and erect a steel mesh to prevent similar incidents,” said Arshad, another resident.

‘Covering drain not possible’

Municipal Commissioner Swapnil Dinkar Pundkar, however, said it is not possible to cover the outfall drain, which has to be cleared on a regular basis. “Half of One Town would be inundated if the drain was covered, as cleaning would not be possible. Even covering the  drain with a grill might not be possible. The VMC, alternatively, would lock all the openings near the approach roads. It might help in preventing such accidents,” Mr. Pundkar said.

In the recent past, a six-year-old boy reportedly fell in a drain and drowned at Gurunanak Colony, in the city on May 5. The boy, identified as Abhiram, is thought to have fallen into the overflowing drain while playing on the road and drowned.

These are not stray incidents. Rama Rajya Nagar, Labour Colony, Bhavanipuram Housing Board colony, K L Rao Nagar, Ajithsingh Nagar, etc are a few areas where such incidents took place in the past. 

Two Town Circle Inspector (CI) A. Subramanyam has said that a case under accidental drowning has been registered and an investigation is on.

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