Contractor held for ‘gross negligence’

Rautahat, August 6

Police today arrested contractor Prahlad Sah of Durga Construction Service after four girls of a family drowned in a ditch that was dug by Sah’s men to expand the Ring Road in Garuda Municipality, Rautahat.

Ram Ekwal Sah’s daughters -- Sangita Kumari, 12, and Sunita Kumari, 9, his brother Jogendra Sah’s daughter Sunaina Kumari, 9, and his other brother Prem Sah’s daughter Susmita Kumari, 9, of Ramjanaki Temple Tole of Garuda Municipality died in the tragic incident yesterday.  Police arrested Prahlad after the victims’ family demonstrated against the incident.

The locals protested with the bodies at Methur Chowk for four hours after relatives of the minors received the bodies from district hospital after the post-mortem today. They demanded stern action against the staffers at Road Division Office, Chandrapur, and the contractor.

Police assured the victims’ kin that action would be taken  against the guilty.  SP Yagya Binod Pokhrel of Rautahat District Police Office said an immediate relief amount of

Rs 25,000 was offered to families of each girl for their final rites.

Rautahat Chief District Officer Uddab Bahadur Thapa has sought documents related to road construction from Road Division Office Chief Yogesh Suman.

Suman said he was unaware of ditches being dug on the road. “We called a tender for road construction, giving all responsibilities to the contractor,” he added. He said the contractor should be held responsible for the incident.

The road division office had called the tender for expanding the road. Sah signed the contract for Rs 1.4 million, which was one-third of the tender price. Locals accused the contractor of using soil dug out from sides of the road for construction of the road.

A local, Manoj Chaudhary, said ditches were dug on both sides of the road using dozer. He said minors fell into a ditch filled with rainwater as they were oblivious of the ditches.

Ram Ekwal has sought action against staffers of the road construction company who had left the ditches unattended.