Kerala HC expresses shock at incident of child falling into drain in Panampilly Nagar, summons municipal secretary | Kochi News

KOCHI: The Kerala high court on Friday expressed shock at the Panampilly Nagar incident, of a child falling into an open drain, and ordered the Kochi corporation and the Ernakulam district collector to ensure that all open drains in the city are covered with slabs or barricaded within two weeks.
Advocates S Krishna and Vinod Bhatt, who are the amici curiae appointed by the court in the case regarding bad roads, brought the incident of Thursday evening to justice Devan Ramachandran’s notice on Friday morning and the court ordered the secretary of the Kochi Corporation to appear before it at 1.45pm.
During the hearing at 1.45pm, the corporation’s counsel tried to point out that a man would not have fallen into the drain and said the news that has come out is incorrect. Corporation secretary Babu Abdul Kader appeared in person and unreservedly apologized for the incident. Steps will be taken to cover the drains or barricade them within two weeks, he assured.
Responding to this, the court said, “We’re concerned about safety. This can happen to our children also”. The court said it was shocked when it came to know about the incident.
“A man may not fall but this is a small child. Imagine if something had happened to that child today. The consequences would’ve been far graver. This is why I thought the secretary should come. Who has the final responsibility? Corporation. Who represents the Corporation? The Secretary. This is why I thought the Secretary should also know what is happening. There are several such drains open. MG Road, because of the cleaning processes, the footpath is now virtually gone. Obliterated totally. I don’t know how people can walk on MG Road. It’s not easy. This child is a lucky survivor. We’ve been saying ‘footpath, footpath’ for so many days. We’ve been asking for footpaths to be created for safety. This should’ve been barricaded,” the court said.
The Corporation’s counsel submitted that there is a barricade. To which, the court replied, referring to the barricade in a photo produced by the Corporation, “This is not the barricade, it is only towards the culvert. Where is the barricade there? The open space should’ve been barricaded. It’s there at the back but not at the front. If you say you can’t ‘slab’ it for some reason, should you not barricade it so that somebody will not fall? We can’t keep waiting for an accident to happen.”
In an interim order (WP-C Nos. 32680/08 and 34310/19), the court observed, “The sight of open drains and pits are very common in Kochi, as is in various other parts of our State. However, this cannot be a justification to turn a blind eye to it. 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 it, to cause serious injury. As I said before, it is pure God’s grace that this has not happened”.
“The absolute imperative of making the city safe for every citizen – be that young, old, or the infirm – has now attained acme proportion, with this 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. This is unthinkable!” the court said while directing the Corporation secretary and the district collector to take action within two weeks.
The court also ordered the district collector to do a security audit of pedestrian areas of the city and file a report. The court will consider the case again on December 2nd.

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