A four-year-old girl fell into an open, waterlogged drain barely 100 metres from her home in Hindpiri to be fatally swept away on Wednesday afternoon, her family blaming the Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s callousness for her death.
The girl, Falak, a close neighbour of RMC ward 23 councillor Sajda Khatoon at Nala Road in Hindpiri, was on her way to attend her tuition class when she slipped and fell into the arterial drain around 1.30pm.
Though dozens of bystanders jumped in to rescue her, she could not be found.
Four hours later, her body was recovered 5km away from the Subernarekha river in Chutia, where the drain flows into the river.
The killer drain, which channels dirty water of Hindpiri, Main Road and other adjoining localities, lacks every basic safety feature despite being situated in the heart of a so-called Smart City.
A bystander said that Falak had stopped to buy chocolates at a neighbourhood shop near the drain, which had neither any cover not barrier at that stretch, when she seemed to take a misstep and fell into the dirty water.
“I was right there, talking on my cellphone, so were many others. We rushed to the spot. I could clutch her schoolbag but could not save her, the currents of the drain water were so strong that she was gone,” a shocked Md Kasib told this paper.
Falak lived with her parents and younger sister Alia, who is 2 years old.
Her uncle Md Arshad said they could not believe a child could die so easily because of the city’s poor drainage system. “My niece became a victim of Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s carelessness. For hours we frantically searched for her across the stretch of the drain, all the way to Kadru. Finally her body was found stuck in garbage in the Subernarekha river,” said Arshad.
Ranchi Main Road from Ekra Masjid forks right to the narrow and potholed Nala Road with the uncovered drain.
“RMC built the drain but did not bother to cover it. At some places, people pooled in their own money and to put covers. The road has no flank. Not a single day passes when people and bikers fall in the drain,” said Md Imran.
“It gets dangerous in monsoon as the drain becomes a swollen river.”
He added that ward councillor Khatoon wasn’t bothered. “We have demanded a cover for the drain many times in the past but no one bothered to listen,” said Md Nasim, another resident.
Khatoon did not respond to phone calls when The Telegraph tried to contact her.
Ranchi deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya, who visited the locality around 3pm when Falak’s body was still missing, promised to get the open drain covered with concrete slabs, but did not give a deadline.
“This was a tragic incident. The drain has many criss-crosses. Apparently, the child was washed away towards Guru Nanak School. I will call a meeting of the RMC on open drains,” said Vijayvargiya.