mid-day editorial: We must not drown in inaction

It is shocking that that the authorities haven’t been jolted awake even after a senior citizen man was found dead in a water tank at Aarey Milk Colony. The 20-foot-deep tank is used for the cowsheds in the dairy colony, but also poses a threat to children playing nearby.

This paper reported yesterday that after 60-year-old Abdul Shaikh may have been in a drunken stupor at the time of the incident, but the only reason he fell into the tank was because it had been left uncovered and unguarded. At least three people have drowned in the tank till date.

The Public Works Department (PWD) had built the tank and covered it with wire mesh, but vandals had cut away large patches to make a quick buck. Locals demand that security guards be posted there, and CCTV cameras be installed to prevent future thefts.

Aarey locals warn that the tank is a disaster just waiting to happen. Children are at greatest risk, since they play around the tank and many even swim in it. And, with summer upon us, we can only expect more kids to frolic in the water.

We hear of regular drowning deaths in this city. But not all can be blamed on the authorities. People too flout rules and turn a blind eye to warning signs, resulting in huge tragedies. In this case though, swimming must be totally banned in this tank. In any case, this water is meant for the cowsheds, so why are children, or even adults, allowed access? The tank needs to be closed off and secured so that it is rendered inaccessible to the public.

When the authorities were quizzed, they gave the same old response — that the problem would be addressed, that they would put new mesh in place. But this may be too little, too late. There is no time to pass the buck or defer issues. Urgent measures are required to prevent such accidents at the tank. First up, the tank needs to be covered fully. But the only way to stop a repeat of the vandalism is to deploy strong security presence near the tank.

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