“Humne umeed chhodh di hai ab (We have given up hope now),” said Rajesh Ladot, as officials continued to look for the body of his eight-year-old son, Dishant Ladot, who allegedly drowned in a drain while playing outside his house in Gadoli Khurd village in Gurgaon’s Sector 37D three days ago. Rajesh said his wife has not been able to eat since then.
The family said the incident took place around 3.30 pm on Sunday when the boy was playing outside his house, which is along the drain. He had gone to pick something up when he is suspected to have slipped and fallen into the drain and was swept away in a matter of seconds, they said.
“My daughters repeatedly ask ‘Le aaye bhai ko’ (Have you brought our brother back). I do not know what to tell them. It’s the third day. Ab chance nahi hai (There is no chance now). Initially, we had hoped that he may have held on to a rock or an edge and would be saved by a diver,” said Rajesh, a driver who also does daily-wage work.
“We just want to see our child one last time. We hope authorities locate his body soon. Bas body dhoond kar saup do humein (Just locate the body and hand it over to us),” he said, his voice breaking.
The boy’s body is yet to be recovered as teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), police, fire department and civic agencies continued rescue efforts.
“The water level in the drain was high due to rain earlier that day. Since the drain is uncovered, water comes to our doorstep when it rains. My sister-in-law heard cries of people that Dishant was drowning. She, an aunt and some neighbours ran outside, but it was too late… he was struggling to remain afloat and was swept away in front of us. The incident took place due to the negligence of authorities. If they had covered the drain, this would not have occurred,” alleged the boy’s uncle, Sunder Ladot.
Officials said the drain is 26.5-km long of which a 6-km area, where the incident took place, is not covered. Waste from industrial effluents across the city is dumped into the drain, which flows to Badshahpur drain and eventually to Najafgarh.
After the incident, the family and villagers blocked the Gurgaon-Pataudi road at Umang Bhardwaj chowk in protest for hours. The protest continued on Monday, with traffic being diverted. Police said the road was reopened Tuesday evening after consultations with the family and villagers.
The family also alleged their complaints about installing fences around the drain and concretisation were ignored.
Krishan, a resident, alleged: “We have been suffering for years… The authorities are now putting up fences. Some fencing was installed earlier, but it was stolen. Our main demand is that the drain is covered permanently. We also request some compensation for the family.”
Vikram Singh, executive engineer, Infrastructure-2, GMDA, denied allegations of negligence. “Work on installing fences around residential areas along the drain started on Monday. Our teams are assisting in the rescue efforts,” said Singh.
Ankita Choudhary, SDM, North Gurgaon, said rescue operations were on: “Teams are still locating the boy. The open area has been scanned multiple times by divers, but the body could not be located. The main issue that teams are facing is that a lot of waste is dumped in the drain, and the lack of oxygen in those parts.”
The SDM added, “The drain is not completely covered due to some NGT guidelines and issues of land acquisition around it.”