Mumbai: Body of woman missing from Asalfa fished out in Haji Ali

Updated: 06 October, 2020 07:31 IST | Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Kin blame poor quality gutter cover after it emerges that 32-year-old mother of two fell into an open manhole at a waterlogged spot

Sheetal Bhanushali fell into an open manhole in Ghatkopar. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
Sheetal Bhanushali fell into an open manhole in Ghatkopar. Pics/Rajesh Gupta

The city's manholes continue to be death traps in the heavy rain. A 32-year-old housewife from Ghatkopar East fell into one on Saturday and her body was found on Monday near Haji Ali. Her family has alleged that Sheetal Jitesh Bhanushali fell into it as its light cover had lifted off due to waterlogging. The authorities are baffled by how her body ended up 21 km away as there are obstacles in the drainage system, according to them.

However, a BMC official claimed the distance was almost 30 km. The Ghatkopar police registered a missing complaint about Bhanushali, a resident of Ashapura Society at Asalpha village at Ghatkopar East, and on Monday converted it into an Accidental Death Report (ADR). In the postmortem report the cause of death was drowning and she was found positive for COVID-19. The Tardeo police transferred the case to the Ghatkopar police.

Bhanushali is survived by her husband Jitesh, who has a garments business, and two children, a son, Yash, 8, and a daughter, Dhvani, 2. On Monday she had planned to go to Umargaon at Gujarat to her parents' place.

A relative, Mahendra Bhanushali said, "On Saturday around 7 pm Sheetal bought craft work items for Yash and after dropping him home, she went to collect flour from a flour mill. Due to waterlogging in the heavy rain, a manhole cover had opened automatically. People told us she fell into it. We looked for her then registered a missing complaint with the Ghatkopar police."

The Fire Brigade searches for  Bhanushali's body. Pic/Rajesh Gupta
The Fire Brigade searches for Bhanushali's body. Pic/Rajesh Gupta

Speaking to mid-day, Senior Inspector Nitin Alaknure of Ghatkopar police station said, "We assume Bhanushali fell into a manhole at Shivajinagar and her body floated from the Tilak Nagar nullah into the Mithi river, then the Mahim creek and the sea near Haji Ali. It floated over 21 km."

Mahendra Bhanushali further said, "The BMC installed a low quality manhole lid which was light in weight. Due to this, the low quality cover came off automatically after water logged in the area. Only the BMC is responsible for Sheetal's death. The police should register an offence of negligence against the BMC officer responsible for this incident."

Bhanushali's body was found by some workers in the sea near Haji Ali and they informed the Tardeo police.

BMC speak

Assistant Commissioner Manish Valanju of L ward said, "We have started an investigation into how the body moved from such a small drainage line. The manhole she fell into has many utility pipelines inside and it's difficult to understand how the body floated through it. The drainage line is connected to the Mithi river. The distance which the body floated in it is more than 25-30 km from the spot." A BMC official said the civic body has issued a notice seeking a detailed report of Bhanushali's death.

BJP leader and former member of the Lok Sabha Kirit Somaiya said, "I have given the Ghatkopar police a letter seeking action under IPC sections 34 (common intention), 304 (culpable homicide), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) against BMC officials and the contractor. The quality of the manhole cover was poor. The BMC is responsible for the negligence of leaving a manhole open, unattended. Earlier there were cement covers on the manhole, but after repairs in January the BMC replaced them with those of poor quality."

21km
The distance the woman's body travelled to sea

Aug 29
Day in 2017 when famed gastro specialist Dr Deepak Amarapurkar died similarly

Earlier incidents

. An 18-month-old girl, Sweety Pal, died after falling into an open manhole in Nalasopara (E) in August this year

. A 19-year-old girl, Komal Jayram Mandal, fell into the drain in Adarsh Nagar in Oshiwara in February this year

. A 37-year-old painter, Sajjad Khan, fell into an open drain and died on July 31 at Mira Road this year

. On August 29, 2017, top gastroenterologist, Dr Deepak Amarapurkar went missing near Elphinstone Road station, after he allegedly fell into an open manhole

. An 18-month-old child, Divyansh Singh, fell into a manhole at Ambedkar Chowk at Malad East in July 2019

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First Published: 06 October, 2020 07:06 IST

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