Bhopal: The death toll in Indore’s Sri Baleshwar Mahadev temple tragedy has risen to 36, with the body of the last missing person – a 53-year-old man – being retrieved from the deep stepwell on Friday afternoon.
With this, an over 24-hour-long rescue operation by around 140 personnel including 75 Indian Army men and SDERF (State Disaster Emergency Response Force) was concluded.
Initiating action, Indore police have registered a case of culpable homicide against Sevaram Galani, who is said to be head of Sri Baleshwar Mahadev temple trust. Meanwhile, the Indore Municipal Corporation said it had suspended two officers (a building officer and a building engineer), who were in charge of Patel Nagar area where the temple is located.
Out of total 36 people who died in the heart wrenching incident, the youngest victim was a two-year-old boy, Hitansh, while the eldest one was an 80-year-old woman identified as Jayvanti Devi, according to police. Most of the victims were women.
At least 20 people, who were rescued safely in the first four hours of the incident, were admitted at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital, popularly known as MY Hospital. Four to five of them were at a critical stage.
As per the official reports, over one hundred residents from several nearby localities thronged the temple to offer their prayer on the occasion of Ram Navami on Thursday morning. While, were busy in chanting mantras as the ‘havan’ process at the temple was going on, around 11.30 a.m., a concrete area on which around 40-45 people were standing and were praying caved-in and they all fell into a deep step-well. The people were not aware that the place where they were standing was an actually a makeshift cover over the deep stepwell, which was illegally covered years back.
Sources told IANS that the the Indore civic body had issued a couple of notices to the temple trust directing to remove the concrete slab from the stepwell, including a fresh notice issued in January this year, but no action was taken.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, accompanied by Home Minister Narottam Mishra, inspected the incident spot on Friday, where they were joined by Water Resource Minister Tulsi Silawat and Indore’s Mayor Pushyamitra Bhargav.
“We have directed a statewide survey and probe of all such covered bawlis (wells), to prevent such tragedies in future. Also, all open borewells will be traced and action initiated against those responsible. A magistral inquiry has also been ordered and basis of its reports the action would be initiated against,” Chouhan said in a media briefing upon reaching Indore on Friday morning.
He and the ministers also visited the MY hospital to meet those rescued and were receiving medical treatment there. However, they had to face the ire of the people as a large number of people had gathered at the hospital and shouted slogans against him.