A 22-year-old man died and another grievously injured when a high-tension electricity tower fell on an auto rickshaw in east Delhi on Sunday, even as civic agencies indulged in a blame game just hours after the bizarre accident.
According to police, the incident reportedly occurred near the Mayur Vihar Phase-I metro station, located on the main Akshardham-Noida Road around 11:10 pm on Sunday night, when Ajay Kumar Prajapati (24) was on its way to Noida.
“The autorickshaw was being driven by Ashok Kumar (22), who was to drop Prajapati at his friend’s Noida residence when they passed by the area where road-widening is being undertaken by a civic agency,” said a senior police officer.
According to police, the earth beneath the high-tension electricity tower — which had been tilting precariously for the last few weeks, suddenly toppled over when the vehicle was passing by.
“The spot where the incident occurred has been terribly dug up due to road widening which is being undertaken by a particular civic agency,” the officer said.
Connected to four similar electricity towers — which plummeted subsequently — by six narrow electricity cables and virtually no concrete to keep them rooted, to what can only be described as loose sand, the incident was just waiting to happen, police said.
“The tower belongs to the BSES. Had they taken adequate care to consolidate the base of the tower, the incident would not have occurred,” the officer said.
According to police, the duo was rushed to an adjacent government hospital, where Ashok was declared brought dead on arrival and Ajay was referred to a private medical facility.
“Though his head is intact, the pole literally scraped the skin off his face,” said Nand Lal Prajapati (56), Ajay’s father.
An engineer by profession, Ajay was returning home to Jhansi, UP to meet his future bride. He was reportedly working on a construction site at Karnal and had decided to meet his friends in the NCR before leaving for home.
“I don’t know how he looks now but I’m happy that his brain is fortunately still normal. He was to get married this year. I don’t know whom to blame but I wish the BSES had been more careful,” he said.
But the BSES says it’s not at fault. “The area around the foundation of these towers was disturbed and damaged, weakening their base,” said a BSES spokesman.
“The road widening agency had not given prior notice or taken permission from BYPL for work in this area,” he added.
“Road widening agencies engaged in the beautification of the city are once again requested to inform BSES before undertaking any activity, which has the potential to damage BSES property.”
Police said a case of criminal neglect against BSES had been registered and further investigations are underway.