Indore temple mishap: Victims’ families allege delay in rescue op

The family members of the victims of the Indore temple stepwell mishap have blamed the district administration for the delay in the rescue operation.

Rescuers pull out bodies from a stepwell that collapsed at Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore (Twitter Photo)

According to them, many lives could have been saved if the army and national National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team were called on time by the administration.

The army was called 11 hours past the incident time, even though a base camp was situated in Mhow, just 22 km away from Patel Nagar, alleged the people.

If the municipal corporation or police even came up with safety equipment for the rescue operation, many lives could have been saved, said Hitesh Patel, son of Laksmi Ben Patel who fell from a ladder during the rescue.

Also Read: Indore temple stepwell roof collapse: Toll rises to 35, rescue operation on

A senior citizen who lost four members of his family claimed the rescue and relief efforts from authorities began very late and it was local residents who reached the spot after the incident and saved lives.

Meanwhile, the family members of the victims have demanded Shri Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal Trust president and secretary should be arrested immediately.

On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president and former chief minister Kamal Nath met the survivors and the family members of the deceased.

Nath first visited the hospital and inquired about the well-being of the injured people.

“The victims made serious allegations against the Municipal Corporation and the administration for the delay in the rescue operation. The injured and their relatives said there no rescue was done till two hours after the accident. The NDRF team came in the evening and Army at around 11 PM,” Nath said.

Criticising the government, Nath said that this incident exposed the reality of the ‘smart city Indore’. The administration failed to save people due to delay in the rescue operation, he added.

The former chief minister further announced that if Congress comes to power, Rescue Rapid Action Force will be formed in every district, which will reach the spot in 15 minutes in case of an accident.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Congress of taking the opportunity of the situation. Indore BJP leader Gaurav Ranadive said, “Kamal Nath had not gone to console people but to make political announcement. Many Congressmen were laughing in the hospital. Congress leaders are highly insensitive and looked at it as an opportunity for political gain.”

Requesting anonymity, an NDRF team member said, “The administration had no idea about the stepwell. We were informed that there was water up to only five feet but when we entered the stepwell, we found water up to 30 feet. At least 10 dead bodies were found buried in the mud. We were facing difficulty due to the release of poisonous gas.”

Following the incident, Indore district collector Ilayaraj T released a detailed note on the accusations stating, “After the accident in the temple in Indore, the disaster management work has been done by the administration according to the prescribed norms. The prescribed SOP (standard, operating procedure) has been followed in disaster management. There was better coordination among all the agencies of disaster management. SDRF and NDRF and Army have done the work of disaster management in mutual coordination.”

Also Read: Indore temple well collapse victim shares ordeal: ‘Couldn’t breathe’ | Watch

He said that as soon as the accident information was received, all the administrative officers immediately reached the spot a strategy was chalked out after a mutual discussion.

“All necessary resources were mobilized well in time. The biggest challenge before us was to get the people trapped inside the well alive, it was a challenging task for us to get them out without getting hurt and first of all this work was done by focusing on that,” said the collector.

The administration on Saturday has given instructions to close open borewells along with wells and stepwell.

In an order issued, Ilayaraja T said, “Chief municipal officer in urban areas and chief executive officer in rural areas will conduct a survey and will ensure that unused or open borewells, stepwell and wells should be closed properly. Violation of this order issued under Section 144 will lead to penal action under the Indian Penal Code.”

“The cap will be fitted in the borewells, which are not used or the motor is not installed,” the order read.

According to the official figures on Saturday, the toll from the stepwell roof collapse at Indore’s Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple has mounted to 36 with the recovery of 21 more bodies even as the rescue operation continued.

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