The warning of Superintendent of Police, Madurai Rural, V. Balakrishnan, against quarries in disuse that did not adopt safety measures has come in time. One has to see to believe how the open quarries near Othakadai and on the Melur-Tiruppattur Road have become death traps. Many have swum to death in the stagnant water in these open quarries, unable to fathom their depth.
Those who take mining on contract leave the quarries when rain water gets filled up. Once water gets filled up, they become open lakes, tempting the locals, especially children, to have a swim. Adaikkalam, a quarry worker from Narasingam, said that children found their way into the abandoned quarries when there were no people to chase them away. The police estimate that at least ten children have died in these quarries in the last few years. Hence the SP’s warning that failure to provide protective fence around abandoned quarries will attract punishment under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code.
If on the one side you have the open mines that provide stones for construction work, the road that takes vehicles to the quarries runs precariously between two open quarries. Lorries are driven at more than normal speed on this road to reach the quarries located further down Narasingam. A protective railing is provided along the Arumbanur Road where a quarry is located on the left side.
Those who have taken the quarries on lease, are taking steps to prevent further casualties in these death traps. Sengoimunai, a contractor of Narasingam, said that they had ordered materials for fencing the open quarries. Warning boards would be placed at vantage points.
A watchman would regulate the entry of people into the quarry area, he said. Already, a few quarries have been filled up and are being converted into plots. Civic bodies can think of dumping solid waste into these quarries to level them.