The site from where Ujjwal Bishwokarma fell into the drain. (Photo: Khabarhub)
KATHMANDU: A 10-year-old Ujjwal Bishwakarma, who went missing after falling into a ditch at Milan Chowk in Kapan, Budhanilkantha Municipality, Kathmandu, was found dead on the bank of the Bagmati River at Mahankal Village in Lalitpur on Sunday.
After Ujjwal’s family identified the body, police sent it to Patan Hospital in Lalitpur for postmortem. The last rites have not been performed yet.
The Irrigation Division Office under the Bagmati Province Government had given the responsibility of construction of the sewage where Ujjwal fell to Thapa Construction Company last year. The company in charge of the construction has already received the payment after ‘completing’ the work last May.
Normally, the concerned ward chairperson, the elected local representative, should keep abreast of both development and destruction in the respective ward, but the chairperson of the concerned ward no. 12 is unaware of such facts.
Ward Chairman Shambhu Prasad Bhattarai only knows that the construction of the sewer was done by the Irrigation Department of the Bagmati Province Government.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. According to him, the ward has not been given any responsibility other than coordinating the construction of sewers. Regarding Ujjwal’s death, he said, ” Unfortunately, a tragic incident has occurred, we are grieved at the news. The ward will do its best to help the victims.”
The sewer is built on the border of Ward No. 12 of Budhanilkantha Municipality and Ward No. 6 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. Ward Chairman Dipendra Lama from Kathmandu came to know about the incident only five days later. He said he had not received any information from the boy’s family.
He said that he did not take any action to compensate the victim’s family as he was not aware of the incident from his family members or any other party.
“I have not received any news from the concerned party. I don’t even know myself, if the news comes I am ready to help as much as I can,” Lama said.
According to Yadav Sigdel, Chief of the Province Irrigation Division Office, Thapa Construction Company was given the task of constructing 65 meters of sewer at a cost of Rs 7.5 million last year. The company completed its work last May and received payment.
The drain Ujjwal fell at the point where they were yet to be built.
According to Sigdel, if such an incident had taken place during the construction, the construction company would have had to bear the compensation. He said that there is provision of insurance for that, but there is no legal provision of compensation as the construction has been completed.
Sigdel said that the work will start soon as the remaining sewage for construction has already gone through the tender process. Stating that there were some shortcomings on the part of the government in the incident, he informed that coordination was being made with the concerned ward office to provide compensation to the victims.
According to the locals, a bamboo fence was erected after the construction of the sewer. However, there is no such bar now.
According to local Suresh Prasad Sah, the road was flooded due to incessant rains. Ujjwal had fallen into the drain.
“The child was sitting next to an old man, we didn’t know when fell! No one got a chance to save,” Sah said.
Ujjwal had come to Kapan with his grandfather from his aunt’s house in Kharibot that day. No one knows where Ujjwal’s parents are. After Ujjwal’s parents disappeared when he was young, he was being brought up by his grandparents.
When he started for Kapan the rain had not started. On the way, when it rained, Grandpa took shelter on the side. According to Ujjwal’s aunt Anita Koirala she fell into the ditch and disappeared while crossing the road.
Local levels promise a ‘nominal’ compensation
Ward chairperson Bhattarai said that the ward would pay Rs 200,000 as compensation to the victim’s family. He said that the amount would be provided as compensation as the value of the person could not be determined. He added that the ward would bear the cost of postmortem at the hospital.
Bhattarai said that he would also request for Rs. 200,000 from Ward No. 6 of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. He said that the victim’s family has demanded a large amount.
“The ward cannot pay the amount as per the demand of the victims as they have to pay compensation as per the rules and regulations,” he added.
Victim’s family expects justice
The victim’s family hopes to get justice from the government. Ujjwal’s aunt Anita Koirala said that discussions are underway with the concerned ward office for compensation.
“My parents’ support in old age is gone now, they are bereaved and we hope the government will give justice,” she said.
She complained that she had to lose her child as the concerned body did not take precaution. According to her, they did not pay enough attention to possible accidents.
She stressed that the government should be vigilant to prevent such incidents. Grandmother Dhanmaya Vishwakarma’s eyes are always full of tears since the incident.