Sleuths of the Vikhroli police station succeeded in solving the mystery behind the growing number of open manholes in its jurisdiction with the arrest of two drug addicts yesterday, who used to steal the covers and cart them away in a tempo to be sold as scrap.
The cops sprang into action after they began receiving complaints from residents of the area, as well as oral complaints from officials of the BMC and the MMRDA, a few weeks ago about open manholes posing a risk for unwary pedestrians during the monsoon.
The police arrested Mumbra resident Anwar Abdul Gaffar Khan and Antop Hill resident Sibbu Shabbir Shaikh from the Vikhroli Eastern Express Highway and seized a tempo and eight manhole covers from them. The driver of the vehicle however managed to escape.
The trio used to identify manhole covers of varying sizes and weight, load them onto the tempo when opportunity allowed and then transport them to a scrap dealer in Kurla. The accused even used to steal massive iron plates — some as heavy as 400 kilograms — strong enough to bear the weight of heavy vehicles. Besides manhole covers, the accused also stole other material that could earn them a fast buck. “They also used to steal covers of water pipelines along the busy Eastern Express Highway,” said Mahipath Indalkar, senior inspector with the Vikhroli police station.
Police Inspector Ganesh Lahane with the Vikhroli police station said that the investigation began after several calls began coming in about covers and other material going missing in the area.
“We positioned officers and staff on the stretch on the Vikhroli Eastern Expressway and managed to nab the duo. We also seized the tempo, but the driver managed to escape,” Lahane said.
He added that they are currently investigating whom the covers were sold to and are in the process of tracing the tempo driver.