Midday Editorial: Declare shut season on open manholes

Published: Nov 23, 2017, 06:02 IST | Team mid day

No lessons have been learnt from the tragic death of renowned gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amarapurkar, which happened after he fell into an open manhole in Lower Parel near his home in August this year

No lessons have been learnt from the tragic death of renowned gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amarapurkar, which happened after he fell into an open manhole in Lower Parel near his home in August this year. Post that shocking incident, we wished to see every manhole cover in place and work actually beginning on new covers that cannot be removed by laypersons or thieves. Some Mumbaikars also submitted designs of something akin to a safety net inside manholes, in case a person falls in. Though these may not have been tenable, it should have got authorities trying to implement safety measures if a cover was missing or removed for some reason. In a report on Wednesday, this paper highlighted a recent incident where a woman fell into an open manhole on Tuesday. There cannot be a more apt time to find a solution for manholes with missing covers. The deadline to plug this deadly menace was yesterday. For years now, we have been reading about manhole covers being stolen and sold for scrap.

We need to make manhole covers that cannot be stolen. Civic engineers can surely have a solution for that. In case, one happens to see an open manhole, call a BMC helpline. Authorities need to respond quickly, come to the spot and put a safety cordon around it. Work on making covers that cannot be moved or opened by laypersons. This should have already happened in the days after Dr Amarapurkar's death, though of course, even that is too late. The police are already stretched thin and it will be difficult for them to make patrolling for manhole covers compulsory. This is about making the covers themselves tamper, pilferage and thief proof. A country that can put people on the moon can surely figure out how to keep a strong lid on a manhole.

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