This comes after 14 children drowned in Udupi district since the onset of monsoon

The representatives of the Concerned for the Working Children (CWC) based at Kanyana in Kundapur taluk held a meeting with the top officers of the district administration on the need to put in place more safety measures around percolation ponds and other pits in the district, here on Thursday.

Fourteen children had died either by accidentally slipping into the percolation ponds or pits created because of stone or laterite or clay quarrying, since the beginning of the monsoon season in Udupi district.

The CWC has been at the forefront demanding safety steps around these ponds and pits.

M.M. Ganapati, Assistant Director of CWC, told The Hindu that the CWC had given four suggestions to Deputy Commissioner M.T. Reju at the meeting and the district administration had accepted these suggestions.

The CWC urged the district administration to give powers to gram panchayats to inspect open wells or unused wells on private properties. In some cases, the landlords lease the land for laterite, stone or clay quarrying leading to creation of pits. The committee had suggested building a minimum three-foot fence around such pits besides holding land owners responsible for the safety.

The committee said the zilla panchayat, the Department of Agriculture and Minor Irrigation were digging pits or percolation ponds under their own schemes without informing gram panchayats. They should inform gram panchayats about the creation of such pits or ponds, the committee said. All such plans should go to the zilla panchayat and fencing of pits or ponds should be made a pre-condition for approval, the committee said.

Circular

Mr. Reju said he would issue a circular on the safety steps to be taken to prevent drowning cases to all gram panchayats and Government departments in a couple of days.

Chief Executive Officer of zilla panchayat S.A. Prabhakar Sharma, Executive Engineer of Panchayat Raj Engineering Department Sridhar Murthy, Executive Director of CWC Damodar Acharya, and presidents and vice-presidents of five gram panchayats – Vandse, Aloor, Kedur, Bellur and Hattiangady, were present.

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