Ditches, left behind by incomplete water and toilet projects and filled up with water following incessant rains, have turned into veritable death traps for children in Majhgawan block of Satna district.
Four tribal kids, including a brother-sister duo, have died after falling into such ditches in different villages of the block within the last fortnight. Three of the children had gone out to attend nature’s call in the open when the tragedy struck, highlighting the failure of the total sanitation scheme in the district too.
Lalita Kol (6) and Lalit Kol (9), children of Munna Kol of Hardauha tola village in Barha panchayat, died on August 14, while Rohit (14), son of Lallu Kol of Deora panchayat, and Sanju (13), daughter of Rammilan Mawasi of Atthan Tola in Majhgawan panchayat, lost their lives on August 16 and 27, respectively.
Local NGO Adiwasi Adhikar Manch (AAM) has alleged that water and toilet projects remain incomplete for years because of corrupt officials and public representatives who seek commission in every project.
The ditches dug for these projects pose threats to children and domestic animals and the situation aggravates during the monsoon season as they get filled up with rain water.
Satna district collector Mohanlal Meena, however, expressed ignorance about the incidents and said if details were provided to him, he would get the matter inquired into.
Anand of AAM told HT that while isolated incidents of kids and animals drowning in such ditches are reported, the fact that four children were killed in a single block within a fortnight was alarming. “But, since this is a predominantly tribal and backward area, such incidents go unnoticed and no one is held accountable,” he said.
AAM has demanded action against the sarpanchs, panchayat secretaries and the field- level officials of the departments concerned and also a compensation of Rs. five lakh each for the affected families.
Lalita Kol of Hardauha Tola had gone out to attend nature’s call outside the village along with their cousins.
Lalita sat right at the edge of the waterfilled ditch left by an incomplete open well project started in 2010-11.
When she got up, the mud beneath her feet gave away and she fell into the ditch. Lalit jumped to save his sister, but both drowned, said their father Munna Kol in an affidavit to the NGO.
Rohit Kol had gone out to play. But after few hours, one of his friends reported to his parents that his body was being seen in the ditch dug for constructing well under Kapil Dhara project in the agriculture field of another villager.
His father Lallu said it seemed that either Rohit had slipped while playing or was trying to take a bath in the ditch when he drowned.
Sanju Mawasi had gone out to attend nature’s call behind her house.
When she did not return for long, her family started hunting for her.
It was then that they noticed her scarf in the ditch dug for construction of toilet under Total Sanitation Scheme.
Her body was later recovered.
The AAM has collected affidavits regarding the incidents from parents of the deceased kids in all three cases.