Expressing shock over the incident in which a child fell into one of the deeper drains at Panampilly Nagar, the Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Kochi Corporation to cover or barricade open drains and pits in pedestrian areas of the city in two weeks.
Justice Devan Ramachandran observed that the absolute imperative of making the city safe for every citizen – be that, young, old, or the infirm – has now attained “acme proportion” with the one incident. “Unless we act now, the day would not be far when we would have to see the full consequences of such an incident,” the court added.
A city in which citizens cannot walk is not worthy to be called such. The sight of open drains and pits is very common in Kochi, as is in various other parts of our State. However, this cannot be a justification to turn a blind eye. As we have seen in this case, the victim is a small child, who would not know the pitfall that faced him, while he was walking happily with his parents, yesterday evening. The drain in question is large enough for him to have drowned; and when he fell, it was also possible that he could have hit the drain, to cause serious injury. It is pure God’s grace that this did not happen, the court observed
Babu Abdul Kader, the Secretary of the Corporation appeared in person, as directed by the court, and apologised for the incident. He submitted that the Corporation was taking steps in terms of the earlier directions of the court to make the pedestrian areas safer. But it was a matter that would require time, effort, and money -the last of which is scarce. He then assured the court that, within the next two weeks, all the open drains and pits would either be covered with slabs – as far as possible – or would be barricaded.
The court also directed the committee constituted by it under the chairmanship of the District Collector to oversee the action of the Corporation, conduct a security survey at the pedestrian areas of the city, and place a report before it.