KOCHI: Over four incidents of drowning involving children reported across the state in recent months prompted ‘Rakshak’, a nationwide project supported by the Union government, to spread its activities to Kerala. Following their campaigns, the Kerala State Commission for protection Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR) immediately issued orders to all state departments asking them to create protective barriers around all dangerous water bodies and introduce swimming as an essential life skill for the children.
Soon after, the Kerala State Urban Affairs submitted a detailed proposal which included the construction of walls around public or abandoned wells, mandatory fencing around other water bodies and placing signboards around them. Abandoned wells are to be reclaimed. This was to be done in association with local self-government bodies. Wells belonging to private parties or individuals are to be made safe by them.
The directorate also suggested the education department to include swimming as a mandatory life skill in the syllabus. “Post-Covid, small children have become more vulnerable as they are spending most of the time indoors. ‘Rakshak’ was started in New Delhi to make the outdoors safer for kids. Later, the project was extended to various areas. In Kerala, we found that there are no clear guidelines even while constructing a swimming pool. This can lead to loss of lives. This was why we decided to introduce the project in Kerala,” said Amal Saji, state ambassador of Rakshak.
The department of local self-government has also been directed to amend the Kerala Municipality Building Rules 2019 and Kerala Panchayat Building Rules to make water bodies safe, said K Naseer, one of the members of the commission. “All the parties concerned, including the director of Kerala State Urban Affairs, secretary, public instructions department, education department, panchayat director, secretary, revenue department and secretary, local self-government have been directed to table the reports regarding immediate measures,” he added.
Rakshak has successfully taken up five issues, including the safety of child cyclists and support for CBSE students whose certificates were confiscated because they failed to pay fees.