On Saturday morning, 17-year-old Deepanshu Pal had taken his new bicycle to school for the first time. On his way back home a few hours later, the Class X student of St Teresa’s Convent School in Ghaziabad was passing through Vijay Nagar — whose lanes were flooded due to the rain. As a result, he did not spot a drain in the middle of the road and fell into it. His body was found a few hundred metres away and he was declared dead on arrival at MMG District Hospital.
Police said the road had been broken in places recently to facilitate desilting of the drain. “The boy could not see the opening because the water on the street and in the drain was at the same level.. The water in the drain was toxic as well,” said Vijay Nagar SHO Shyamvir Singh.
Rekha (18), who saw Deepanshu cycling on the road, said she tried to warn him: “I saw him heading towards the drain… by the time I shouted out a warning, he had fallen in.”
Locals alleged that the drain had been open for the past 20-25 days and that the municipal corporation did not put up any board to warn commuters.
But Dinesh Chandra Singh, Nagar Aayukt, Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation, said most drains in the area are uncovered. “The drain has always been open, like most drains in Vijay Nagar. As it is an old road, we cannot do much about the design. Our team is investigating the matter and will prepare a report in a day. We are trying our best to maintain the drains and prevent such incidents. We will provide the family with compensation.”
The victim’s aunt, Vasudha, said the family heard about the incident on the news but hadn’t realised it was Deepanshu: “We were all watching the news and heard that a boy had fallen into the drain… we were beginning to worry as Deepanshu was not yet home. His classmate who lives in Vijay Nagar, recognised his cycle and came to us.” The family had bought him the cycle on July 7.
Deepanshu’s father Ashok Pal, who works as an accountant, said: “The minute I heard that Deepanshu had fallen into a drain, I knew he would not survive.”
His younger brother, Shubham, who shared the cycle with Deepanshu and had decided to walk home from school that day, said: “Just the previous night, we were discussing a doubt he had in Chemistry.”
His teacher said he was an “ideal student”. “He wanted to make his parents proud and score high marks in his ICSE board exams,” said Apekshit Baliyan, Deepanshu’s Math and Science tutor.