About ten craters, each 18-20 feet in depth, are lying uncovered in the area for more than three weeks. 59-year-old Mukesh Arora failed to notice one of them on Monday.

Talk about tunnel vision! For about 25 days now, Sadar Bazar resembles the lunar landscape more than anything earthly. According to reports, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was carrying out some sewer-repair work in the area, but failed to 'cover' its tracks. About ten craters, each 18-20 feet in depth, are lying uncovered in the area. And 59-year-old Mukesh Arora paid for this with his life.

Life down the drain: The manhole on Qutub Road, Sadar Bazar in New
Delhi on Tuesday.
Pics/Subhash Barolia

Arora, a trader and secretary of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders Association (FESTA), was on his way home from his shop at the time when he fell into one of the manholes. Locals reported at least two accidents in the area, resulting in severe injuries that have been caused by the pits in recent days.

Death pit: An open manhole on Teliwara Qutub Road, Sadar Bazar in
New Delhi on Tuesday

The victim, secretary of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders
Association (FESTA), Mukesh Arora.

Full stop
In protest of the incident, angry traders on Tuesday shut the market down 2 pm onwards. According to them, the civic agency is responsible for the loss and should claim responsibility for the same.

Chandar, a bystander who helped rescue Arora.

"Before this two residents of the area had received major injuries falling into these craters. We have complained numerous times to MCD officials, but they seem to never rise from their slumber, even after this death," said Paramjit Singh Pamma, vice-chairman, FESTA.

However, Arora the sole breadwinner of his family (survived by his wife and two children) remained in the pit for almost half an hour, after which he was rescued by some locals. Arora was then rushed to St Stephens' Hospital in Tis Hazari, where he could not get ventilator support. While he was being shifted to another hospital, he died on the way.

Chandar, one of the bystanders who helped rescue Arora, said, "He was lying in the pit for long, but could not get any help as the hole was deep. He was lifted out of the pit through ropes. But it was too late by then. Had he received help even a bit earlier, he might have survived."

FESTA vice-chairman Paramjit Singh Pamma. Pics/Subhash Barolia

'Want action'
Members of the traders' association say this is major negligence on part of the civic body and they will persist with their protests till the culprits are arrested and the family of the deceased is compensated.

"We will lodge an FIR on Wednesday. All of us will protest, give dharna at the MCD office till officials responsible for the menace are arrested and the family is compensated," said a trader.

The other side
When contacted by MiD DAY, Jagdish Mamgain, chairman, works committee, MCD said he wasn't aware of the issue. "We are not aware of any such incident. But if the roads have such deep pits, I will speak to my chief engineer and will get it repaired as soon as possible," he said.