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Despite Ram Temple Celebrations, Child Fatalities in Vadodara Raise Concerns About Gujarat’s Safety Standards

IndiaDespite Ram Temple Celebrations, Child Fatalities in Vadodara Raise Concerns About Gujarat's Safety Standards

On the evening of January 18 in Vadodara, amidst the festive atmosphere awaiting the “Pran Pratistha of Ram Lalla” in Ayodhya on January 22, tragedy struck as news broke of a boat accident in the Harni area. Twelve children, most of them under the age of 10, who were on a school picnic, drowned in the lake.

The city, adorned in saffron, was abruptly shifted from celebration to mourning, with the lives of 12 families shattered, losing their beloved children. Two teachers also lost their lives in the boat accident.

The victims included Asiya Khalifa, 11, born after 17 years of her parents’ marriage, and her cousin Rayan Khalifa, a year younger. Alisabanu, 9, who was seen waving the national flag in a video before her tragic death, and Sakina, 9, who recorded an excited video on the morning of the picnic, were among those lost.

Five families experienced the heartbreaking loss of their only child. The administration, in response to the tragedy, claimed to be in “action mode.” However, investigations revealed that the boat exceeded its capacity, lacked life jackets, had no lifeguards, and allegedly was not adequately maintained. Safety standards were reportedly overlooked by both those managing the lake zone and government officials, despite the location being opened to the public just last year.

This incident is reminiscent of the tragedy in Morbi, Gujarat, on October 30, 2022, where a newly renovated pedestrian suspension bridge collapsed, claiming 141 lives, including 55 children. Similar concerns about safety lapses were raised regarding the use of substandard materials in the renovation.

The article questions whether the Gujarat government has learned from previous tragedies and if it is committed to addressing safety negligence. It emphasizes the need to hold culprits accountable, regardless of their connections, and highlights the ongoing concern for the safety of ordinary citizens.

Despite the recent boat tragedy, the city quickly shifted back to a celebratory mood, leaving the grieving families in the shadows of personal sorrows. The article concludes by invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s words on corruption and emphasizes the importance of a high moral code and vigilance to combat such tragedies caused by negligence.

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