Monday, September 4, 2017

Will Dr Deepak Amarapurkar’s death be in vain?

Are we waiting for another similar event?

On August 29, Dr Deepak Amarapurkar, a renowned gastroenterologist of the country, met an untimely and a very tragic end, when he fell into an open manhole during the heavy rains in Mumbai. His body was found two days later. This was an entirely preventable death, so why did this mishap happen?

This is but one of several examples of non performance of civic bodies.

Abandoned, but open bore wells, several feet deep, have claimed the lives of many innocent children. Low hanging live cables or open cables put lives at risk.

India has the highest number of road traffic accidents in the world. Driver error undeniably is a major cause of road traffic accidents. But, accidents are also caused by poor road quality and poor maintenance. Potholes, uneven road surfaces, lack of traffic signals, poor street lighting, collected water on the road, traffic cones are all hazards that cause road accidents and injuries. Speed breakers on our roads are most often poorly designed. There are no warning signs, no markings on them.

Falling trees, in particular, old trees also take lives. In July this year, the death of a woman was reported from Mumbai after a tree fell on her.

Litter or debris on the roads is also a hazard to drivers, cyclists or even pedestrians. Improper waste management not only has health implications, it is also a safety hazard as was evident in the landfill collapse in Delhi, which also claimed lives. This was and is a disaster waiting to happen.

Maintenance of roads and infrastructure of the city and also keeping it clean is the responsibility of civic bodies.

Why can’t such incidents be controlled or prevented?

Are these civic bodies poor? No. They have adequate funds by way of taxes - property tax, road tax, licensing charges, road parking charges. Every house or parking is contributing to the funds.

Despite this, such unfortunate incidents recur and many people lose their lives each year. Is this not non performance of civic bodies? The civic bodies have failed time and again to resolve these civic issues year after year.

If such an incident, had occurred in a hospital e.g. patient falling from the bed, electrical injury, this would have created uproar and the situation would have been ripe for another episode of violence against doctors, with even damage to hospital property. Criminal cases are being filed against doctors. This criminal prosecution of doctors is unwarranted.

Yet, where is the accountability for state and civic authorities for failure to maintain facilities or penal provisions, for that matter, in these instances of civic negligence? Should not an advisory or alert, cautioning citizens to stay home/indoors been issued in time? Who will take the blame for the death of an eminent doctor of the country?

Are we waiting for another such event to occur?

IMA Mumbai is filing public interest litigation (PIL) in the death of Dr Deepak Amrapurkar.

It’s high time that the state and civic authorities shake off their apathy and proactively act to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own.

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