Following the directives of the Bombay High Court to address the issue of manhole cover thefts, the BMC has issued helpline numbers through which citizens can register complaints against open manholes. It has also vowed stern action against those who open manholes without permission or buy stolen lids. The civic body said that these acts will attract a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Manholes in Mumbai
There are around one lakh manholes in Mumbai, which are maintained by the sewage water management and storm water departments (SWD) of the BMC. Till date, protective grills have been installed on just 5,000 manholes. These gaping drains become potential death traps during monsoon and have even claimed several lives.
While recently hearing a public interest litigation in a related matter, the HC had said that if anyone falls into the manhole this year, the onus will be on the BMC. The issue of open manholes was also highlighted. The court directed the civic body to take concrete steps regarding the open manholes.
BMC Declares Keeping Manholes Uncovered As Offence
The BMC is still struggling to find a solution to the pressing concern of manhole cover thefts. In few cases, citizens themselves open manholes so that accumulated rain water recedes speedily, but leave them uncovered later hence increasing the chances of people falling into it. Now, the civic body has declared that it will file offences against such persons under relevant IPC sections, including section 304A (causing death by negligence).
If any citizen finds open manholes or a person stealing the lid they can call 1916, else can visit the local ward office or BMC chowkie, the civic body said.
● Disaster management cell 22694725, 22704403, 61234000
● Storm water drain workshop 24309817, 24309472
● Western suburbs control room 9833539044
● Eastern suburbs Control room 983353905