Indore temple tragedy could have been averted had authorities acted sternly

Bhopal: Rescue operation in Indore temple tragedy in which 35 lives were lost continued on Friday with some people still reported to be missing. Sources have said the tragedy could have been averted had the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) acted upon the illegal constructions (covering of old stepwell) in January this year.

Official sources in IMC told IANS that it had marked the walls cover for demolition as it was found dangerous during an earlier inspection.

“A notice was also served to Sri Baleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple trust to remove the slab in next one week in January. However, action remained on paper only due to fear of hurting religious sentiments,” a senior BMC official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

The officer also claimed that a show cause notice to the temple trust was also served earlier in April last year, directing that the slab put on top of the stepwell should be removed. IANS also attempted to speak to the temple trustees on this matter, however, response is awaited.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan upon reaching the spot told the media that the Indore district police have registered a case and a magisterial inquiry has also been ordered.

“Whoever is found responsible, will be punished as per the law. As of now, our first priority is to complete the rescue operation, which is still continuing. One person is still missing. State government will bear the medical treatment expenses of all those who got injured. We are ensuring that all injured get the best medical treatment,” Chouhan added.

While CM Chouhan was briefing the media in Indore on Friday, he was also joined by IMC mayor Pushymitra Bhargava, state Home minister Narottam Mishra and water resources minister Tulsi Silawat.

Later, Chief Minister Chouhan also visited Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital where injured persons were admitted for treatment. A total 14 people have been rescued from the stepwell. Out of these two died later during treatment. The condition of four-five rescued persons was reported to be critical.

The Chief Minister also said that the district administration has been directed to find wells and stepwells which are covered with slabs. He also mentioned that a survey of tubewells will also be conducted.

“I have directed district administrations to check tubewells across the state, and if found lying uncovered, take strict action against the landowners,” he added.

In the last six months, around half-a-dozen cases have been reported wherein children had fallen into borewells. In a fresh instance, an eight-year-old boy, named Lokesh Ahirwar, had fallen into a borewell while he was playing outside his home in Vidisha district on March 14. Rescue operation lasted for 24 hours, however, the boy could not be saved.

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