Who killed Priya?

A 13-year-old died in a park in MEG Layout, after a loose play equipment fell on her head. Who is to blame?

A girl lies bleeding for 30 minutes, in a park, after a ladder attached to a slide falls on her head. When she finally gets medical help, it’s too late.

Who killed Priya? Each one of us!

Those who are responsible for keeping the park safe and accessible for the kids… Passersby busy taking pictures and sharing it in Whatsapp instead of helping find medical attention… we residents who did not raising the issue of dangerous play equipment when we notice it… All of us are responsible.

As long as it is not happening in our own backyard and oury kids are not involved, it’s doesn’t become our concern at all. Why have we become so insensitive?

Aren’t our political leaders and city administration ashamed of these incidents and blame game? If the park was under maintenance, then it should have been cordoned off to deny access to people. Caretaker should have been responsible enough to ensure the safety of park users.

This is not for the first time that such an incident is happening. Earlier this year, after a child was crushed by a stone decoration at Lalbagh, Mayor Padmavati visited a couple of parks.

“I got to know of the terrible condition the parks were in and how most of them were in an unusable condition. This is the reason I decided to inspect the parks personally. The parks were really too bad to be used. It is truly a sad state. I am literally shocked,” the mayor said.

According to the mayor, though there is no scarcity of funds, the parks are in such irreparable state and dangerously damaged due to the corrupt practices of authorities concerned.

“The lives of young children are in the hands of authorities, whose moral and professional conscience is long dead,” she added. (Bengaluru Mirror, January 2017)

Newspapers reported she was fuming at the state of the parks and ordered the officials to take swift action. We don’t know what happened to the committee she promised to setup to look into the issue.

If you make a visit to the same parks again, don’t be surprised if the parks greet you in the same or in worse condition.

Avoidable tussles on payments

The rift between caretakers and local communities in BBMP parks is not new. The supervisor in charge of parks is responsible for its maintenance. Supervisors who get their payment on time will pay their staff on every Saturday, or monthly. There are many caretakers who never get paid on time. There are also instances of payments being due for months together.

Depending upon the size of the park, these caretakers are paid from Rs 3,000-7,000 with which they need to feed minimum of four to five mouths and imagine when they are not getting their wages on time. Though not justifiable, most of the time, poor responses from the caretakers arise from these frustrations.

Who is responsible for this mentality – supervisor or the concerned department responsible for the payment? Will anyone of us keep quiet if they don’t get their “one” month salary on time? Are these voiceless people not important for the city? We talk about Bengaluru being a smart city and IT capital. A city becomes smart when a citizen of lowest cadre is able to meet ends peacefully and live happily, not when we provide for the people who have in abundance.

Grabbing remaining open spaces

A recent development we see is Indira canteens. Why are parks and playgrounds targeted for these purposes? Don’t we have any other government owned spaces?

Children and adults alike require parks and playgrounds, to keep themselves healthy and active. These places also act as green spaces that reduce pollution and improve air quality. At this pace, Bengaluru may become the hub of noncommunicable diseases, which already cause 60% of the deaths in India. These are lifestyle diseases, caused mainly due to physical inactivity and unhealthy food habits.

Instead of devising strategies to create built environment that encourage people to lead healthy and active lifestyles, our governments are looking to take away these lung spaces. And when we reach a stage beyond repair, it will be too late.

People who lose out

In this blame game, only a few people lose out. And they are not the ones who created the problem in the first case.

Priya, a healthy young girl lost her life just because of the carelessness of the administration! Priya’s parents lost their only daughter, their loss can never be compensated. The caretaker of the park might lose his job, throwing the family onto the streets till they find a new place and a job.

Another issue the incident brought forth was the difficulty in getting ambulances on time and as fast as possible. The child was taken to the hospital on a bike because the ambulance did not reach in time!

There is lack of accident trauma care centres in every neighbourhood. Travelling from MEG layout to reach Bowring Hospital amid chaotic traffic made sure Priya lost the battle.

This may not matter to most people. Because, tomorrow we will have new things to worry about, and this Priya will be forgotten forever!

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