Mumbai: Teenager drowns in Banganga during devotees' rituals
Several locals are upset about the lack of preparedness to ensure safety at Banganga, where thousands of devotees come every year during this period for pitru-paksha rituals
Matunga teenager Shiva Raju Koli, 15, drowned in Banganga on Monday afternoon. And with no ambulance available, he was rushed to hospital on a motorbike but was declared dead on arrival. Several locals are upset about the lack of preparedness to ensure safety at Banganga, where thousands of devotees come every year during this period for pitru-paksha rituals, conducted for remembering departed souls.
Shiva, who lives in New Ganesh Nagar, had accompanied his aunt, one of the contract labourers at the spot, for cleaning up. After the aunt's shift ended at 1 pm, she realised Shiva was missing. When even after a half-an-hour search she failed to find him, a few locals asked her to look underwater. Some boys from the area who were regular swimmers jumped inside the tank and found the teenager.
"They brought him out, but he was unconscious and not breathing. We took him to the nearby dispensary immediately where we were told that he has to be rushed to hospital. But there was no ambulance, and the fire engine was away from the tank, which would have caused more delay. Hence, we ferried him on bike to St Elizabeth Hospital in Walkeshwar," said Mahesh Kudalkar, a local. Shiva's mother Ajima, a sweeper at Lower Parel station, didn't know he had gone to Banganga. It was only at 3 pm that she got a call, informing her about the incident.
"Nobody at home knew that Shiva had gone with his aunt. When I left for work and didn't see him around, I thought he was playing somewhere in the locality," she said, crying inconsolably. Former local corporator of the area, Pramod Mandrekar said exclusion of locals from the management of the event this year is what has led to problems.
"This is the first year locals are not involved in managing the event; they are not only aware of the spot but are also experienced in handling emergency situations. A death has occurred at Banganga after a long time." When contacted, local ward officer Vishwas Mote said, "The BMC doesn't look after arrangements, as Banganga is taken care of by the GSB Trust. The civic body only contributes in cleaning up afterwards." Praveen Kanvinde from GSB Trust remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts to contact him.
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