Set on the backfoot by the incident of a three-year-old falling into an uncovered canal at Panampilly Nagar on Thursday night, Kochi Corporation Mayor M. Anilkumar on Friday said he checked on the child at the hospital where the boy was under treatment.
Under fire from the Opposition and the High Court, the Mayor issued a statement on Friday evening, maintaining that the hospital authorities had been informed of the Corporation’s willingness to bear the child’s treatment expenses. A report has been sought from the superintending engineer. Officials and councillors have been asked to report about open drains and canals abutting roads without barricades, he said.
The Mayor also said that barricades would be set up along canals and open drains would be covered with slabs. The Corporation had thought about covering canals with slabs a few years ago, but it was shelved considering that it would hamper canal cleaning work.
Meanwhile, Youth Congress activists took out a protest march with a young child to the Kochi Corporation office on Friday to highlight the civic body’s alleged apathy in covering drains. But the use of a bare-chested child to protest backfired, leading to another controversy.
Road user safety
Slamming Kochi Corporation for its inability to ensure the safety of road users, the Leader of Opposition in the Council Antony Kureethara said the agency ought to replace slabs that were removed as part of Operation Breakthrough. “In addition, grills that can be removed must be installed in areas where cleaning of the canal is required and placing concrete slabs are impractical,” he said.
Funds for replacing slabs must be allotted on a priority basis, since the safety of members of the public – especially children – is at stake, said UDF councillors of the Council, in a statement. They also demanded measures to speed up removal of cables that dangled dangerously from electric posts, endangering the life of road users. They would take out a protest march to the Kochi Corporation office on Saturday.
In the meantime, Athira, the mother of the boy who fell into the canal on Thursday night, said his health was better although he had an infection due to the intake of water from the canal. He was shifted to a room from the ICU where he was admitted on Thursday. “Such an incident must not happen to anyone, for which open drains and canals beside roads must be covered,” she said.