THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after three teenaged girls drowned in a quarry pond at Pallickal on the outskirts of the city, the district administration and Rural police have initiated safety measures at abandoned quarries in the district. Three girls, Sainaba, 15, daughter of Sirajudeen and Beena; Jumana,16, daughter of Bushra and Shihana,16, daughter of Kamaludeen and Tasni were drowned after they got down into the pond for a bath on Sunday evening. Since the pond was 50-feet deep, the girls apparently lost balance and drowned.
According to District Collector K Vasuki, special squads had already been formed to check whether the quarries are complying with the safety norms. She said the preparatory works to ensure safety at all abandoned quarry ponds had been done and the safety measures, including fencing, will be implemented within two months. “We are concerned about the lack of safety arrangements being made at the quarries. Not only the abandoned ones, the quarries that are operational are also violating the norms. So we have made a legal framework regarding the safety at quarries. A special squad has also been formed to check whether the quarries are complying with the norms. However, the action will begin within two months,” Vasuki said.
Earlier, various district administrations in the state had proposed fencing around the rain-filled pools. However, nothing has been materialised so far. Though some of the quarry owners voluntarily made fencing, the majority of quarry ponds still pose threat to the public. As many as 80 granite quarries are located in the district of which, nearly 30 quarries are in a state of neglect. These deserted quarry pits eventually turn into pools following rain. In such a situation, norms stipulate the respective local body to ensure they are barricaded and warning boards placed. However, the law is being violated.
According to the local residents near quarries, many people, especially youths, visit the abandoned ponds for taking photographs, selfies and for having a bath. Officers of the Mining and Geology Department tasked with authorising quarries said they had no details regarding the quarries lying abandoned in the district.
SP to hold talks with Collector
Rural SP P Asok Kumar told Express he would hold a discussion with higher officers, including District Collector, to make safety arrangements at the abandoned quarry ponds. “This was an unfortunate incident. Many people are unaware of the danger lurking in the ponds. Earlier, we have proposed the fencing at the abandoned quarries. Some quarry owners accepted to make fencing while some others didn’t. So we propose safety measures, including fencing at the quarry ponds, and it is expected to be implemented in the near future,” Asok Kumar said.
A shocked village
A pall of gloom descended at Pallickal on Monday after the bodies of Sainaba, Jumana and Shihana were brought to their residences from Paripally Medical College Hospital for paying homage. The relatives were in a sense of disbelief and shock that a family get-together turned out to be tragic. Sainaba’s parents had big hopes for her daughter as she had just completed the SSLC examination. But their dreams got shattered with the accident.