The NDRF’s deep diving team, which eventually recovered the body, had to suspend their search around 9.15pm on Monday. The rescue operation resumed around 6.30am on Tuesday and the body was found a few hours later. Sourabh’s parents, who had already given up hope on Monday evening, appealed to the authorities to cover all open drains across the city.
Sourabh was playing with his cousin and another friend near his home when he fell into the drain on Monday afternoon. Although police were informed immediately, it took almost two hours for the rescue operations to begin as a team of divers had to be called in from Okhla, 16km away. After the team failed to trace the boy despite an hour-long search, it sought help from the NDRF, which started operations around 6.40pm.
Sourabh was a Class III student in SMG Public School in the area. His father works as a labourer in Delhi and his mother is a domestic help.
Jitendra Yadav, commander of the deep diving team of the NDRF, told TOI that the team had to suspend the search around 9.15pm because of darkness. Yadav had said on Monday that the delay in search operations had allowed Sourabh’s body to drift away from the spot.
Sourabh’s cousin Akash said the boy could have been saved had someone responded on time. “Workers of the Noida Authority, who were carrying out de-silting work in the drain, had seen the child drowning. They had with them ropes and two excavators, but still did not respond to the situation. An elderly man who heard Sourabh crying for help shouted out to others, but no one came forward,” he said.
Akash rued that even when the police team arrived at the spot and asked the Authority workers to stop the flow of the drain, some of them continued to capture videos. Akash said the family had taken Sourabh’s body to their native village in Muradnagar area of Ghaziabad.
Open drains are a cause for concern in Noida and neighbouring Ghaziabad. Both districts have seen a number of deaths, especially of children, by drowning in open drains. Rajesh Singh, officer on special duty at Noida Authority, said there was no immediate plan to cover drains.