Chennai: A huge pit left behind by private sand mining contractors at Kannapalayam village under Poonamallee panchayat limits near Avadi some years ago, has turned into a death trap for the villagers. Four persons, including two children, have drowned in the pit-turned-pond since last year.
According to P Nagalingam, a resident of the village, some years ago, Public Works Department (PWD) officials during the previous regime awarded tenders to private contractors for sandmining in the area. “Since then, the spot, which used to be dug up for sand, has become deep and rainwater began to stagnate in the pit. As years passed by, it turned into a pond after the villagers started using it for regular chores such as washing clothes and taking bath,” he added.
M Kantha, a resident of Kannapalayam village, said, “This is the third time such an unfortunate incident has taken place at the pond. A year ago, a college student and a man drowned in the same pond while they were taking bath.”
Last week, two children, who came to collect their house keys from their mother, who was washing clothes in the pond, drowned after they tried to retrieve the keys, which slipped from their hand and fell into it.
“The pond is very deep in some spots and in other spots it is very shallow. Generally, the residents use the pond for washing clothes. They wash clothes in the shallow spots. Only those who are unaware of its depth get trapped when they get into it for bathing. If they know swimming, they would escape. Otherwise, they drown,” Nagalingam said.
Villagers, however, seem to be unfazed by the sporadic drowning deaths, as they continue to use the ‘pond’. When contacted, a local body representative said, “PWD officials during the previous regime awarded tenders to quarry sand from here. As per rules, private contractors are allowed to dig only up to two to three feet. But they had taken sand for more than six feet. Hence, rainwater stagnated in the deeper pits and people are now using it for bathing and washing clothes. After the recent mishap, we filed a petition with the authorities asking them to erect warning signboards.”