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Army to search for Bangalore boy who drowned

The Indian Army has joined the search for the body of six-year-old Abhishek Prakash, who drowned in Bangalore on May 31 after falling into into an uncovered drain that was flooded with rainwater.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2009 22:18 IST

The Indian Army has joined the search for the body of six-year-old Abhishek Prakash, who drowned in Bangalore on May 31 after falling into into an uncovered drain that was flooded with rainwater.

A team of the Madras Engineering Group (MEG) will begin a search operation to retrieve the body of Abhishek Prakash, who slipped into the drain while walking with his mother at Lingarajapuram in north Bangalore, said a joint press release issued on Monday by BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palika) and the army.

"The army has agreed to clear the entire Hennur Lake of all weeds," the press release added. The drain water from Lingarajapuram flows into the lake a few kilometres away.

"Each stretch of the area where the body could have got stuck was analysed in great detail before deciding on the final course of action. After detailed discussions, it was inferred that the body could not have gone beyond the Hennur lake," a BBMP official told IANS.

A day after the accident, a team from the BBMP and the fire brigade immediately started rescue operations that lasted four days in a 20-km stretch of the drain beginning from Lingarajapuram to the Ramapura lake. It was called off as it failed to produce results.

Thereafter, BBMP requested the army to take up the search operation.

Officials of the army and BBMP met at the headquarters of the Karnataka and Kerala Sub- Area on Monday to work out an action plan.

Around 60 personnel of the MEG will be deployed for de-weeding the Hennur lake with specialized equipment in four days.

"The army personnel had conducted a detailed reconnaissance in conjunction with the BBMP engineers on June 6 and June 7.

The BBMP has already carried out desilting of the first one kilometre stretch of the drain and will continue the desilting process till the Hennur Lake," said a BBMP official.

Abhishek's death has evoked a lot of criticism both from civil society and the media over the BBMP's lackadaisical attempts to improve the city's civic infrastructure and its unpreparedness to handle accidents caused by rain.

Even the Karnataka High Court has censured the civic agency for dereliction and neglect of duty.

A bureaucratic tussle even emerged as BBMP commissioner S Subramanya filed a defamation case against the Lokayukta (ombudsman), Justice N Santosh Hegde.

According to the BBMP chief, Hedge "allegedly" made malicious remarks against him during an interview to a private channel. However, the case was withdrawn on Monday.

Abhishek's family, especially his mother Bharathi, is still hoping against hope that the boy is alive.

"I cannot believe that Abhishek is dead. He was walking along with me on the ill-fated day. It was raining and the road was deep in water, we could not figure out the drain. Abhishek suddenly slipped and he went deep into the drain in front of my eyes and I could not do anything," Bharathi told IANS.

As a damage control measure, the state government has granted Rs 100,000 to fund the education of Abhishek's elder sister Vidya. Abhishek was the only son of Bharathi and Prakash, a security guard in a private firm.

Post Abhishek's accident, the government has also decided to construct retaining and side walls along the 880 km of the city's stormwater drain system, with a chain link fence to cover them.

Bangaloreans in general now feel that the tragic death of the boy should be a lesson for the government to improve the city's basic infrastructure.

"It is sad and unimaginable that in India's Silicon Valley, a child has died as he fell into an open drain in the middle of the road. I hope the episode is a wake up call for the government to improve the city's infrastructure," said Nawab Khan, a Bangalore-based entrepreneaur.

First Published: Jun 08, 2009 22:15 IST