Monday Musings: What would it feel like without arms and legs?
It is now about a month that a three-and-half year old child had his arms and legs amputated for no fault of his.
Till April 18, Aditya Gaikwad, was like any other child his age; running around, playing and doing all the things that three-year-olds do. Disaster struck on April 18 when his parents took him on a visit to a relative’s house in Katraj and the child went about exploring the terrace. He was apparently playing with an iron rod which came in contact with an electric transformer belonging to the MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electric Distribution Company Ltd), located barely three metres from the terrace wall.
So horrific was the high voltage current, that, about a week later, doctors at the Sassoon General Hospital had no choice but to amputate his arms and legs to save his life.
Aditya’s father, a tailor, has been dumbstruck with the bolt that has struck him from the blue. What kind of a future can this little boy look forward to? How are his poor parents going to fend for him for the rest of their lives? Can you imagine how helpless and meaningless life can be without arms and legs?
This extraordinarily tragic case is certainly not the first of its kind in our country, and also not the last, given the callous disregard we Indians have for safety. Just last week, 22 students lost their lives when a fire broke out in a Surat building where the top two floors had been allegedly illegally constructed.
In Aditya’s case, the process of law moved in the usual manner: After preliminary investigations cases were booked against the MSEDCL and the house owner on charges of illegal construction as the terrace wall was extremely close to the transformer.
Aditya’s father said that the MSEDCL paid him Rs 20,000 for the “initial medical expenses”. MSEDCL also blamed the entire accident on the house-owner for alleged illegal extensions.
A number of points demand close scrutiny in this case: Can the MSEDCL shrug off its responsibility by blaming the house owner for this tragedy? Is it not the responsibility of the state power distribution company to barricade its transformers for the highest level of safety, especially in densely populated areas as was the case in the present instance?
Is it not the responsibility of the MSEDCL to take immediate action against any illegal construction around its transformers which could lead to a major disaster as happened on April 18?
Now that Aditya has been rendered limbless for the rest of his life, what kind of compensation should he be entitled to? How many crore rupees should he get so that his medical expenses, cost of rehabilitation, extreme trauma, and the loss of the income for the rest of his life is covered?
Had India been a liberal democracy with strong institutions as in the West, Aditya would most certainly have been awarded compensation that would have run into millions of dollars. The power distribution company, too, would have been fined heavily for its negligence.
The sad reality is that India’s law and order mechanism - its judiciary and the police system - are woefully inadequate to do justice to the people. This is what needs to change and change on a note of urgency.
Aditya’s case needs to be taken up by a learned lawyer, knocking the doors of the Supreme Court for justice. In the least, students of law from the best law colleges in the city should take up the case and pursue it to its logical end.