2 Nov 2008, 0322 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: The Madras high court has directed the Chennai Corporation to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the parents of a child, who drowned in a storm water drain negligently left open by sanitation workers.
Pointing out that the 18-month-old Venugopal died over 10 years ago, Justice Chandru decried the Chennai Corporation for having failed to submit its reply to the court in a timely manner.
He directed the civic body to pay the compensation amount to the child’s parents within four weeks, and warned that any failure in this regard would be viewed seriously by the court.
"Insofar as the death of Venugopal, the Chennai Corporation is squarely responsible. Because of their negligence in not keeping the storm water drainage in closed condition, such an incident had happened. The minor Venugopal cannot be expected to know the danger of the stormwater drainage kept in an open condition," he said.
On September 5, 1998, Venugopal, residing with his parents at Karanesan Nagar in Korukkupettai, was playing near his house when he fell into the drain. A portion of the drain had been left open by corporation employers, who were cleaning the channel earlier that day.
There was no doubt about the cause of the child’s death, and the post-mortem too revealed that he died due to drowning in the channel. Though the matter was reported widely in the media, there was no response from the government.
The child’s father, M Subramani, sent a complaint to the chief minister’s grievance cell, and consequently remarks were called from the zonal officer of the civic body. The remark acknowledged the fact that one of the three cement slabs on the channel had been left open by the employees on the fateful day. The Corporation had paid a sum of Rs 2,000 to the child’s family. This writ petition was filed later.
Recording the fact that the parents had lost one of their two children, Justice Chandru said they had suffered mental agony which could not be compensated.
Making municipal services pay for negligence