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Sunday, December 20

Accountability, sir

News from The Hindu, 20 Dec, 2009.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The Museum-Nanthancode road was closed to traffic on Saturday evening after a boundary wall of the nearby zoo collapsed under the weight of sodden mud heaped against it. Much of the silt, removed from a pond inside the zoo, flooded the arterial road. A van parked on the road was buried under the mud. Residents in the area found it difficult to reach their homes.

A local resident said the mud removed from the pond was heaped against the decades-old compound wall of the zoo.

The previous day’s rain increased the weight of the silt heap. The Museum authorities had contracted a government agency for cleaning and deepening the pond.

The silt inundated the road. Local residents managed to remove two motorcycles, which were in the path of the heavy silt outflow. The Fire and Rescue Services personnel were engaged in removing the slush to a place inside the zoo compound.
And see all the mess for yourself, credits to the photographers from the respectives sites.

pic courtesy The Hindu

pic courtesy Keralakaumudi

 pic courtesy Keralakaumudi

pic coutesy Sujith John

Fortunately enough, nobody was injured in this 'accident'. Incredible, as this could well have ended up as a  Page 1 news.

This road, the Museum- Nanthencode Road is a frequent channel to Ministerial residences incluing that of the CM. Such a perilous situation has been allowed to develop putting into jeopardy the lives and property of many innocent citizens. This has disrupted traffic through this main road and incessanntly cut off many a families. And on top of that, this sludge, years of accumulated animal waste pose a serious health hazard to the residents.

Surely someone has acted in a gross irresponsible manner on a job they're paid for. About time such incidents are taken with enough seriousness and someone held responsible for this even though it passed off as a shake-your-head-and-carry-on incident.

I would like to share my experience re a similar occurrence here in the Republic of Eire. There was a makeshift smoker's den attatched to the administrative block of my hospital, which incidentally had the controls and set-up for the gas, oil connections to the kitchen. Nobody noticed the potential danger but it didn't evade the eyes of the Health & Safety Officer during the annual inspection. She immediately locked and sealed the den and severely reprimanded the Safety Representative and two floor managers for this serious oversight. Two of the managers were suspended and charged with unwillful neglect of duty. The smoker's den was moved to a safe distance, detached from the main building.

That Health & safety Officer didn't wait for a carelessly discarded cigarette butt to light up a gas leak and blow up the entire hospital. Sticthed right in time...

Unfortunately back home the word 'accountability'  has a less significant meaning. It is something which hasn't yet been embedded into our work culture and ethics. Someone allowed a mountain of mud to be deposited against this old, dilapidated wall creating an opportunity for it to cave in. The contractor or the Govt agency who did the work is direclty in line.

Then cometh the Zoo authorities who failed to plan a way to dispose off the sludge safely, after they had decided to clean up the lake. Afterall it is their territory, there is no handwash.

It also poses a question mark on the system and the way in which civil works are boing done in our state. It shouldn't be the unskilled workers but their supervisors who've to take the blame.

What if the lives were lost? The news would've made it to the front page and on more editions of our media, a few tears dropped, some emotional editorials written, an enquiry is ordered as a hogwash, the incident forgotten and the chores fall back to old ways.

Square One!

The result? Perumon, Kadalundy, Thekkady et al. Safety takes the backseat or the boot in our daily life may be becuase India is 'full of life', 1.17 billion to be exact. We take things for granted, we consider life to be cheap, we still wait until there is enough blood, we won't budge unless it is one of ours who pays the price...

Be it anywhere in the progressed societies, the Zoo authorities, concerned Govt Dept heads, the contractor, the Ministers and even the city Mayor would have been taken to a Court of Law and made to sweat it out. Nobody is/should be allowed to escpae from their responsibilities.

This incident in Trivandrum is a triviality all right, may be nothing to whinge about here. So read,chuckle  and move on because it didn't wash a school boy down the drain, but how easily it could've!

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