SHIVAMOGGA: Two labourers, including a minor, who stepped into a clogged manhole on New Mandli Road to clear it, died inside it here on Monday. As part of extending the underground drainage, manholes and channels nearby were being cleared of blocks, which sent the water caught there rushing into the 15-feet deep manhole, in which the two labourers were in. The deceased have been identified as Venkatesh (around 37 years) and Anjanappa (around 17 years) of Bilachodu village of Jagaluru taluk in Davanagere district.
Venkatesh had entered the manhole after tying a rope around his waist when the flooding happened and he could not come out. Anjanappa had gone in to help Venkatesh. Other labourers who were working with them said that they are not sure if the two died of asphyxiation or from drowning. They also said that they are not used to this kind of work but were pressed into doing it by their employer, a mason Thippeswamy, who was sub-contracted the work.
According to sources, the mishap may have occurred around 1.30 pm but others, who were working in different spots, noticed it only by 2.30 pm. The bodies were then fished out by the fire services personnel.
Anjanappa’s father Murthy was nearby and he was inconsolable. The boy’s mother Anjanamma and brother Dhananjaya had not been informed about his death. Venkatesh is survived by his wife Manjamma and three minor children Anitha, Akshatha and Aruna.
Corporator Ideal Gopi said that the underground drainage was being extended when the two were asked to clear the manhole, which was blocked because of the rainwater and sewage in it. Private agency Venkat Sai Associates of Andhra-Karnataka had been contracted for the UGD work by Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB). They handed it over to another contractor, Prasad, who then hired mason Thippeswamy. Thippeswamy brought nearly 12 labourers from Bilachodu village, among them were Venkatesh and Anjanappa, who had been working on this since last Sunday. The UGD work is nearly complete.
The other labourers protested against the contractor, demanding that he come and visit the spot. They kept the bodies there for more than three hours. They relented only after assurances were given by mayor Nagaraj Kankari and MLA K S Eshwarappa. Besides corporator Ideal Gopi, DySP Sudarshan too visited the spot. Eshwarappa promised that maximum compensation would be provided to the families of Venkatesh and Anjanappa. A case was registered with Doddapete police station.