A 56-year-old man died after he drowned under Minto Bridge following a spell of heavy rainfall in the city.
Police said Kundan Kumar was transporting goods in his Tata Ace van when his vehicle got stuck in the waterlogged road and he couldn’t escape. “We received a call around 8 am. By the time we reached, passersby had pulled out the man’s body from the water,” a senior officer said.
Kundan hailed from Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand and had shifted to Delhi a month before the lockdown. Police said he was supplying food and groceries to the CRPF and Delhi Police canteens and hostels. The work was done on a contractual basis.
On Sunday morning, he had picked up a consignment from New Delhi Railway Station and was on his way to Connaught Place when he got stuck.
Rajender Dubey, ACP (Barakhamba Road), said, “Due to the rain, the streets were waterlogged. Kundan tried to take his van through the underpass but got stuck. It seems he drowned and died. We checked the body and didn’t find any external injuries.”
Passersby noticed the vehicle half-submerged; Kundan was lying on top of the vehicle and was struggling to get out, said police. They called police and some of them stepped in the water to help Kundan. They managed to bring him to the road, but he had died by then. His body was taken to RML Hospital and a post-mortem will be conducted soon.
Police said Kundan’s vehicle belonged to his cousin Pritam Singh. He told The Indian Express, “He was waiting to go back to his family in Uttarakhand. His daughter’s wedding was fixed in November. We spoke last night and he told me he had to go to pick up goods for the CRPF canteen. He left around 5-6 am.”
Singh said Kundan would sleep in his vehicle and had no place in Delhi. He worked for more than 12 hours a day: “He was the sole breadwinner, earning Rs 10,000-15,000 a month.”
North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash later visited the spot. He claimed, “Waterlogging at Minto Road or in other areas of Delhi at the beginning of monsoon is a result of negligence on part of Public Works Department. We informed PWD and Jal Board officials about the problem on the Minto Road railway underpass, but no one came here. We immediately removed the water.”
The PWD said that there’s a pump house that comes under them, but they aren’t responsible for the waterlogging. “The water that is pumped out by us goes into Delhi Jal Board drains. We think the DJB lines were clogged. Both our pump house and flood control room are functioning round the clock to avoid such incidents,” said a senior PWD official.
The Jal Board denied this allegation: “Waterlogging on the underpass wasn’t because of the sewer lines. Our line doesn’t have any blockage and has been running smoothly.”
The Opposition hit out at AAP. While Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said the PWD had failed to complete desilting, because of which waterlogging was seen at several spots, Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary said both the Delhi government and MCDs failed to carry out desilting of drains in time.
Stating that there were some delays in the cleaning of drains due to Covid-19, DJB vice-chairperson and senior AAP leader Raghav Chadha said: “After the lockdown, both the Delhi government and BJP-ruled MCDs started work of desilting of the drains. Unfortunately, in a time when all agencies were busy working to combat the pandemic, the BJP is blaming us for water-logging incidents…”
Meanwhile, three more people died during the rain Sunday morning. Among them was an eight-year-old boy who went missing while swimming in the waterlogged streets in Jaitpur. He was later found dead near a ghat by locals. In another instance, a 28-year-old man died after getting stuck in a watery pit in Amar Colony’s Gandhi Camp. A 56-year-old man too died after he fell on an electric pole.
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