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Tuem drowning tragedy was waiting to happen: villagers

Mapusa : Following the drowning of four students in a water-filled abandoned stone quarry in Tuem on Saturday, the villagers have demanded that the state government take necessary measures to avoid recurrence of such incident.

Raising concern over the incident, Uday Mandrekar, a Tuem villager informed that one year back, villagers had raised the issue of collection of rainwater in the stone quarry but nothing was done.

“One year back, villagers in their individual capacity as well as through the panchayat had raised the issue of abandoned quarry and even filed complaints but nothing had happened. I raised the issue with the deputy collector yesterday when the search operation was underway and have requested him to look into it,” he said.

Another villager Jose Lobo said, “We also have more such abandoned quarries in the village that are filled with water which draw swimmers unaware of the depth. The quarry is around 300 metres long and around 150 metres wide.”

Local panch member Suhas Naik said, “As a precautionary measure, the government should at least install fence the quarry to avoid such incident.”

Meanwhile, officials of the boarding school as well as the village are left in shock. Parents and former students on Sunday visited the boarding school to express their grief. Even a notice has been displayed at the entrance of the gate stating that with deep sadness we bitterly regret the passing away of four students.

One of parents whose child was rescued by staff said, “The students had gone to wash their legs and then directly ventured into the water. My son was also amongst the rescued.”

While family of a student from Mumbai was in immense pain due to loss of life of their son who had come back to Goa just few days back from home. The sobbing mother regretted that she would not have sent her son if she knew anything like this would happen. The victim’s father and younger sister were also inconsolable.

Meanwhile, stating that it is the responsibility of the state government either to fill up the abandoned laterite stone quarries with mud or fence them, Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte said that “ideally such quarry should be filled up or at least fenced to avoid such incident in future. I will take up the issue with Chief Minister and request him to fence such quarries as dumping of mud at such a large scale might not be possible.”

Interacting with media persons at Mapusa on Sunday evening, Sopte, who is also the GTDC chairman said, “It is very unfortunate incident which has taken place at Tuem where four young students who have lost their life.”  

Sopte further said that it is total responsibility of such institution to take care of the students in the same manner how parents take care of them at home.

“Those running such institution not only in Goa but in the country should take proper responsibility to ensure safety of children,” added Sopte.

Commenting on laterite stone quarry, Sopte said that the former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat during his tenure had demanded that such quarry should be either filled up with mud or fenced however it was not implemented adding, “If the suggestion was implemented then the incident would not

have happened.”

“Such stone quarries in whichever village or taluka in the state which gets filled with water needs to be either filled with mud or at least fenced. Dumping of mud might not be a feasible option but fencing can be done,” said Sopte.

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