A local BJP Corporator Manohar Shetty made viral news after he entered a manhole to clear garbage from a rainwater drain at Kadri-Kambala in his ward, on Wednesday.
The rare incident of an elected representative acting as a public servant earned Shetty praise from all quarters. The corporator, who is from Kadri South, decided to take the action after a huge stormwater drain began to overflow with heaps of garbage, which were stuck inside. The water was flowing to the road, causing traffic problems and difficulty for pedestrians.
Shetty's photos in which he was seen emerging out of the manhole went viral on social media.
Repeated attempts to clear the drain had been failing. Shetty had summoned labourers to do the job, but they refused, sensibly citing the danger in entering a manhole during the monsoon.
After that, he ordered the city corporation to send a vehicle fitted with a high-speed water jet to clear the drain. That too did not work.
“I requested the jet operator to go inside the stormwater drain and try to clear the clogged pipe using a high-speed water sprayer. He refused to do so claiming that he was not authorised for that kind of a job. The situation was getting bad. No one was ready to enter. Then, I decided to enter the manhole and clean the clogged pipe," Shetty said.
The corporator said that after he entered the manhole, four of his workers also followed suit. "It was about eight feet deep and was pitch dark inside. Using torches, we cleaned it for half a day and cleared the garbage stuck inside”, Shetty said.
He said that he was not new to such a job, as "everyone is used to such things in a place like Mangaluru."
“We can’t force poor people to enter a manhole to clean the pipes for us. If something goes wrong, who will take responsibility? Which is why I decided to do the job myself. We can’t depend on officials for everything,” he said.
Upon being asked about his photos going viral, Shetty said he did not enter the manhole for publicity, and that it was a part of his duty.
“We are elected representatives. If we can do something quickly, we must do that. In Mangaluru, it rains heavily during the four months of Monsoon; we can’t postpone such things. We had to do something immediately and we did just that,” he said.
Shetty said he would definitely repeat his actions if need arrived. “Of course I will. I am also a human being, not a god. If people face civic problems in my ward, it is my primary responsibility to help them," said the first-time corporator.