A seven-year-old girl drowned in East Delhi on Tuesday after she fell into an underground water tank whose manhole cover had been left open.
The tank in Patparganj is used by the Delhi Fire Service (DFS).
Sheeba was on her way to a park when she fell into the tank,her mother said.
Immediately after the incident,a blame game began with government agencies pointing fingers at each other.
The DFS said while it used the tank,the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) or Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was responsible for maintenance of the tank.
DFS chief A K Sharma said,This was an underground water tank meant for fire emergencies. However,since we do not have a maintenance agency,this does not come under our purview.
DJB officials said it was a DFS tank and the MCD was constructing a footpath there. The water utility said it had no role. The MCD too gave itself a clean chit and pointed a finger at the DFS.
Sheebas father Khurshid,who works as a driver,said: No one is owning up. My daughter has died. This wouldnt have happened if the tank was covered.
The underground water tank is along an under-construction footpath,just ahead of the Mother Dairy crossing in Patparganj. About five metres from the manhole is another open reservoir. The covers were back on both manholes within hours of the incident.
She had just finished lunch and ran out to play with her friends. Minutes later,someone came home to tell us that she had fallen into an open manhole, said Sheebas mother Sadma.
Eyewitnesses said Sheeba was running and did not see the open manhole,and fell into the almost 10-feet-deep tank and drowned.
Police said residents used to draw water from the tank. In the process,they never closed the tank, a police officer said.
After police were alerted,Sheeba was pulled out of the tank and taken to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital. She was declared dead-on-arrival.
Area residents said that the manholes used to be within the walls of the nearby park earlier. But after work began on the footpath,the park wall was pulled down and the manholes were left neglected on the main road.
DCP (East) Prabhakar said,We have registered a case of negligence. Liability will be established as to which civic or maintenance agency is responsible for the incident.