Less than a month after a 12-year-old boy drowned in the Korukkupet stretch of the north Buckingham Canal, an 18-year-old woman, employed for contruction work at the Water Resources Department’s (WRD) project to construct a retaining wall near the spot, drowned in a ditch on Thursday afternoon.

R.K. Nagar police identified the deceased as Sheela, a native of Theni, who joined work a few days ago. The accident took place at around 3.30 p.m. when she was watering the newly cemented wall. She slipped and fell into an eight-feet-deep ditch in which water from the canal had stagnated.

According to an eyewitness, Kasturi, a resident of J.J. Nagar, Korukkupet, she ran towards the ditch opposite her house after hearing the cries of the woman. “I could not enter it as it was very deep and had to call a man for help. He jumped inand pulled the girl out, but she had died,” she said.

Sheela’s colleague working next to her ran to the site office nearby and came back with a few workers. They rushed Sheela to the Government Stanley hospital where she was declared dead, sources said.

On June 7, 2012, Vignesh (12), a resident of nearby Bharathi Nagar, Korukkupet, who was playing along the banks of the canal fell into the ditch and drowned. However, even after the death, facilities to ensure safety at the work site remain pathetic.

The construction work involves widening the canal from 25 metres to 32 metre to allow free flow of flood water. However, it has been reduced to a sewage carrier. Water gets collected into the ditch adjacent to the canal which was dug for constructing the retaining wall. The project aims at protecting the thickly populated localities near the canal from inundation especially during heavy rains.

The WRD has initiated an enquiry into the death of the woman. Officials of the WRD said, though the water stagnated is drained every day to carry out the work, water accumulates within few hours.

“We are conducting an enquiry and severe action will be initiated against the contractor if he is found to be at fault,” an official said. The project is set to be completed in a month after which the area along the canal would be fenced.

“We are also discussing whether to construct a compound wall along the banks to prevent encroachments and entry into the canal bank,” said an official.

A post-mortem is scheduled to be held on Friday morning. R.K. Nagar police have registered a case of unnatural death and are also investigating.

Keywords: drowning death

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