A 46-year-old man, who fell into a culvert filled with rainwater on MTH Road, Ambattur, died on Saturday night. Locals said the open culvert posed a threat to road users for long and that it was a case of death due to negligence of the government.
According to the police, Sheikh Ali, 46, a resident of Mannurpet near Ambattur Estate, was reportedly sitting on a parapet above the culvert. Around 9 p.m, he fell into the culvert. “It was filled with water and slush. He was stuck in the passage beneath the median,” said a police officer.
Uday Kumar, who runs a tea shop next to the drain, immediately alerted the Fire and Rescue Services Department and two vehicles were pressed into service. G. Muthukrishnan, station fire officer, monitored the operation. TNFRS personnel, who tried to rescue Sheikh Ali in the pouring rain, said their operation was affected due to public interference.
“There was eight feet of water and our men could not get in without getting the water pumped out. The drain was very narrow and filled with slush. We brought a machine to pump out the water. However, a lot of people gathered. As they kept disturbing the equipment, it did not function properly,” said a fire officer.
“We brought another pump and retrieved him. The entire operation took nearly three hours. The public should allow us to work,” the fire officer said.
Sheikh Ali was rushed to the Kilpauk Medical College hospital in an ambulance. However, he was declared dead on arrival. Some members of the public created protested condemning the delay in rescuing Sheikh Ali.
Threat for long
The State Highways Department had constructed the culvert a year ago to drain the water from both sides of the road as water was stagnating on the stretch. It was closed recently after there were complaints that motorists or pedestrians may fall inside, but it was broken open after it started raining, say residents.
A Ramesh Kumar, a resident of the locality who works in a city hospital, said, the culvert had been posing risk for the past many months. “At least on the stretch leading towards Ambattur Estate bus stand, there is a small parapet, but on the other side of the road, the drain is open. If it gets filled with rainwater, motorists and pedestrians may fail to notice it and fall inside,” he said.
Residents said that the local administration should place barricades on both the sides. “This is gross negligence from the side of the government. The city is never prepared for the monsoon,” said Sadiq Ali, a youngster residing in the locality.