Rautahat’s killer ditches claim 11 lives in 3 weeks

  • Contractors blamed for digging ditches to extract soil to elevate surface at road construction sites
- PAWAN YADAV, RAUTAHAT

Aug 8, 2017-As many as 11 children, aged below 12, drowned in rain-filled ditches in separate incidents in Rautahat district in past three weeks. 

According to the District Police Office,  Shesh Usatakh (10) and Shesh Alkam (11) of Gaur-10, Punam Kumari (3) of Mithuawa-1, Arabinda Majhi (11) of Narakatiya-4, Kisanandan Raya (5) of Sarmujawa-4, Santosh Sah (2) of Pipariya Paroha-2, Priyansha Patel (5) of Shitalpur Bairganiya-5, and Sangita Sah (12), Sunita Sah (9), Sushmita Sah (9) and Sunaina Sah (9) of Garuda Municipality-4 have died after drowning in ditches since July 16.

Most of the ditches were dug during road and building construction. Such ditches were formed while extracting soil to be used for surface elevation at road construction sites. 

“The incidents of drowning happened one after another as the contractors did not bury the ditches that were dug on roadsides,” said Anil Kumar Sah of Garuda, adding that the children drowned while they were swimming or taking bath during summer heat. 

The stakeholders blame the contractors behind the frequent incident of drowning in the rain-filled ditches dug during road construction. “The contractors who haphazardly dug the ditches during construction are mainly to blame,” said Bachchu Patel, an advisor of Rautahat Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The contractors extracted soil to fill the land by digging deep pits and ditches and left them open.” 

Suman Yogesh, the chief engineer at Division Road Office in Rautahat, said that the contractors were digging ditches to raise the surface of roads. He added that such ditches could only be dug with the approval of the landowner.

“In case of Garuda where four children drowned at a roadside ditch on Saturday, we are investigating whether the ditch was dug with the consent and the knowledge of the landowner,” he said.

 Nagendra Sah, district chairman of Construction Entrepreneurs’ Federation, claimed that the contractor in charge of building the roadway at Garuda had not violated any regulations and that he should not be condemned in the latest drowning incident.

 “The contractor was allowed to use the soil from the field where the ditch was dug. There was nothing wrong on side of the contractor,” he said.   

Published: 08-08-2017 08:25

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