Ananya, a 15-month-old toddler, who was being taken care of at the children's care home run by the State Child Welfare Council, fell into a bucket of water and drowned on Thursday, while the ayah or the carer had left her side.

Ananya and seven other infants in a room were being fed their afternoon meal when the incident is believed to have occurred. According to sources at the council, the ayah had finished feeding one infant and had moved away to take the food for feeding another, when Ananya is believed to have fallen into a bucket of water.

The council has been experiencing acute water shortage for the past few days. As a lot of water is required frequently to clean or wash the children, a bucket of water had been kept in a corner of the room.

Sources at the council said there were 34 ayahs or carers at the facility, taking care of 53 children, most of whom were either babies or toddlers. “They were being deployed on day and night shifts, with 15 persons in one shift. The proportion being maintained was one ayah for eight children while the rest had cleaning or washing duties,” she said.

The shortage of caregivers has been a problem experienced by the council for a long time and it is often very difficult for an ayah to mind eight infants of the same age-group.

The system followed here was that an ayah had to be fully responsible for cleaning, washing, and feeding eight infants in a room assigned to her care. The council staff said that despite the staff shortage, all the children were well-fed and well-cared for.

They said that there had been no delay in rushing the Ananya to the hospital. The infant, who had been found abandoned in the electronic ‘Amma' cradle at the council, had been placed in the adoption list.

The council staff were not being paid their salaries for the past three months. However, the staff claimed that all this had not affected the child care activities as following media reports, plenty of donations from the public had been flowing into the council.