HYDERABAD: By Thursday afternoon, 30-year-old Ritesh Jain had let in over a fifty people into his building at Bhomanna Lane, Kachiguda. They all came claiming to be relatives of 12-year-old Suri Venu who was crushed to death in the building by the elevator. “People want to see the lift and take pictures, some even took selfies. We don’t stop anyone as some of them could have been genuine relatives,” said Ritesh. “Our family couldn’t sleep last night as everyone at home is disturbed by this death,” he added.

Venu was a part-time newspaper boy, who worked with one Prashant during school vacations He earned `1,000 a month, which was a big help for his parents who are daily wage labourers. On Wednesday, he was in the building to deliver newspaper to the third floor. The CCTV footage showed the boy coming out of the lift, delivering newspapers, and then returning into the machine. Then, the building watchman is seen running to the lift to find the boy’s foot dangling from first floor, his body had been crushed.

He was taken to Osmania General Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. A day after the accident, the lift, now stuck midway between the ground and first floor, still has pieces of Venu’s flesh and blood stuck to its sides. “The police had to wry open the floorboard that closes the gap between the lift floor and the wall to get his body out. The lift is an assembled lift and we did not hold back on quality while installing the lift as this building was made for our family members. The lift also has a certificate from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at the time of installation,” said Ritesh.

“It’s not true that the child suffocated in the lift, all this happened within a few seconds. This accident happened because of the child’s ignorance and that’s truly sad,” he added. “The newspaper delivery to the building is usually done by the vendor and sometimes by a few others. The boy started showing up a couple of weeks ago and since then was becoming more regular,” said Bhaskar, the building watchman who was also the first respondent.

Lack of rules

Telangana, unlike other Indian states, still does not have any legislation that governs the safety of elevators. Though a draft bill named Telangana Lifts Act 2015 exists, it’s yet to be tabled in the Assembly. In the absence of any law, the elevator sector in the state play by their own rules. When Banu, who owns a couple of buildings in BS Maqtha and Begumpet wanted to build a new lift in one of her already constructed building, she did not have any trouble finding a vendor. The vendor agreed to install the elevator but did not ask for any approval documents from local municipal or electricity departments.

“GHMC gives No Objection Certificate (NOC) after the completion of a building but doesn’t have any control over what happens after,” said Avinash, president of Telangana Elevators Association. The sector, as of now, is divided and unregulated. Any form of self-regulation also is difficult. We call upon the state government to expedite the process, he added. The Telangana state government drafted the Telangana Lifts Act, 2015 after four-year-old Syeda Xanaib was killed after her leg got stuck in the elevator of her school in Dilkushnagar in 2015. Come 2018 the Act is yet to be tabled in the legislative assembly.  The act deals with safety and brings forth regulations to the unregulated elevator sector in the state. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, UP are some of the states that have a lifts act.

Recent accidents
September 2017: An Insurance employee dies after falling into lift shaft, in Hyderabad.
October 2017: A 10-year-old boy dies in lift accident at Karmanghat.
December 2017: Two lift technicians die after the lift cable snaps, in Hyderabad