Thane: Two corporators pass the buck after woman falls into manhole
Two days after a 35-year-old woman in Thane lost her life in a manhole after the lid collapsed, two local corporators are now attempting to pass the buck onto each other, each claiming the incident did not take place in their jurisdiction. Yesterday, this paper had reported that the Thane Nagar police had registered an FIR in the matter against the relevant authorities in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), the fire brigade, the contractor handling the drain and the local corporator.
Jameela Khan fell to her death after the manhole cover collapsed under her on Saturday night. It was later learnt that some drainage work was being carried out in the vicinity.
The incident took place on Saturday night, as the victim Jameela Khan and her family was heading home past the Thane jail. Jameela stepped onto the manhole lid right behind the prison, and it – and a large chunk of the surrounding area – caved in under her. She fell 15 feet into the drain below, and was declared dead due to drowning. It was later learnt that some drainage work was being carried out in the vicinity, which may have compromised the strength of the ground and the manhole cover.
(Left) Shiv Sena corporator Mahesh Wagh said the spot actually falls in NCP corporator Suhas Desai’s area, but Desai denied this
A senior official from the Thane Nagar police station claimed that the spot behind the jail wall comes in the jurisdiction of Shiv Sena corporator Mahesh Wagh (ward 41-A). But when mid-day approached, him, he said the spot actually fell in another corporator's area.
“I am aware of the incident, but the spot where it happened is in the jurisdiction of corporator Suhas Desai. My area is Uthalsar; I checked the jurisdiction in the Thane Municipal Corporation map, and found the spot doesn't fall in my jurisdiction,” he said.
On the other hand, NCP corporator Desai also claimed the spot doesn't come under his jurisdiction (ward 22, Shivaji Nagar in Rabodi). “I am more concerned about the woman who died. She was a resident of Kranti Nagar, which is my area, but the spot where she died is not in my jurisdiction. Anyone found guilty of the negligence should face strict action, whether it is the corporator, contractor, the corporation authorities or fire brigade,” he said.
Corporator Desai said he had also written to Thane municipal commissioner, Sanjeev Jaiswal, to request that the victim's family receive compensation. “The commissioner assured me that the corporation would give them a cheque of R1 lakh. We have also demanded that one of the family members be given a job in the corporation,” he added.
Yesterday, the victim's family and other local residents protested the incident outside the corporation, demanding action against negligent officials.
“We don't want the job or cash from the corporation. We only want the authorities, basically the commissioner, to carry out a proper investigation in the case and punish those found guilty. Due to their negligence, we lost our mother and don't want anyone else to suffer the same,” said Mozzam Khan, the deceased's nephew, who had been raised by her after the death of his father.
The police are themselves confused about who the local corporator is. “We have written to the corporation and asked for details about the local corporator, the contractor and a detailed report about the work that was going on at the spot. A similar letter regarding the ongoing work has been sent to the Public Works Department and jail authorities,” said Senior Police Inspector MV Dharmadhikari, Thane Nagar police station.
“The commissioner has ordered an inquiry in the case and asked additional commissioner Ashok Kumar Rankhamb to investigate. Anyone found guilty will face action,” said Sandeep Malvi, public relations officer for Thane Municipal Corporation.