No response from government week after bureaucrat falls into manhole

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Senior civil servant V.C. Pandey, who broke a leg after falling into an uncovered manhole last week near the lt. governor’s residence Raj Niwas is yet to get a response from the civic agencies on the serious lapse.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer had complained in writing to the Delhi chief minister and public works department minister.

However, PWD Minister Satyendar Jain said no such letter has been received.

“I did not receive any such letter. I will look into the matter once I receive the complaint letter,” Jain told IANS.

The manhole, however, was covered on Tuesday, five days after the incident.

Three Delhi ministers also live close to the spot in Civil Lines area of north Delhi, where Pandey met with the accident while out for an evening walk.

The area is considered one of Delhi’s safest and best-maintained places.

Pandey is secretary for art and culture in the city government.

“I fell into an open manhole which was not marked. I fractured my right leg and suffered severe injuries on my left leg and elbow. Had it been the rainy season, I would have died,” Pandey told IANS.

Last month, a four-year-old girl died after falling into an open manhole in north Delhi’s Burari area.

The man who owned the piece of land had left the sewer open. He had removed the manhole cover as he wanted to replace it.

Dismayed, the IAS officer wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jain.

After the incident was highlighted in the media, the manhole was covered, but no agency was willing to take responsibility.

Asked about the manhole, North Delhi Municipal Corporation PRO Yogender Singh Mann said the manhole might belong either to the PWD or to the Delhi Jal Board.

“From the picture published in newspapers, it does not appear to be a manhole belonging to the MCD. We usually make drains and cover them with a proper slab,” Mann told IANS.

DJB officials had a similar answer ready.

“That manhole does not belong to our department. Someone from the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) must have uncovered it as they were working near that spot and they had dug up few such manholes,” a DJB official told IANS.

PWD officials, too, said the manhole was not under their jurisdiction.

In his complaint, Pandey requested the chief minister and PWD minister to take cognizance of the incident and fix the responsibility of the authorities concerned.

But nothing seems to have moved even after four days of his complaint.

“I have received no response from any of the authorities. I am still waiting to get an answer and an inquiry in this matter,” Pandey told IANS.

On his future course of action, Pandey said: “I am waiting for a few more days to get a response from the authorities. If the authorities fail to take any action in this connection, I will file an RTI questioning negligence in the entire matter.”

Emphasising on the extent of negligence, he said one can find more open manholes just a few metres away from the place where he met with the accident.

“One can easily understand what will be the condition in other parts of the city if this is the state of affairs near the residences of cabinet ministers and the LG,” Pandey said.

Resting at home, Pandey said officials seemed to have a callous attitude towards the public in general.

“Two of my toes and my left leg were fractured. Negligence of the PWD and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation officials is evident,” he said.

Demanding an inquiry, Pandey said erring officials must be booked so that such incidents do not recur.

There was also no streetlight near Raj Niwas where the incident took place, he added.

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