Seven-year-old boy drowns in ditch at Maverick construction site in Ejipura

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Arun Prashanth

Bangalore, September 22: A seven-year-old boy drowned in a large ditch at an under-construction mall-cum-residential complex coming up at Ejipura on Sunday. The project is being developed by Maverick Holdings, proprietors of Garuda Mall. The victim, Arun Prashanth, was the second son of hotel employee Prasad and domestic worker Deepa. The family lived in the Lakshman Rao Nagar slum, adjacent to the construction site.

Arun Prashanth went out to play in the afternoon and when he did not return till late evening, his parents and neighbours started looking for him. His body was discovered by another young boy, who alerted residents.

The seven-year-old was declared dead on arrival at the St. Philomena’s hospital.

The ditch, which was the size of a large swimming pool and more than 15-feet deep, was within the compound of Maverick’s construction site. The BWSSB is also laying pipes along the periphery of the site. Residents said that this was an accident waiting to happen. This is the third such incident where residents have had to rescue children from the same ditch which continues to be filled with rain water for over two months now, said Shaktivelu, a resident here. “The Maverick authorities have not deployed a security guard near this excavation site despite repeatedly requesting them to do so. But there was one guard deployed on the other side of the site where another excavation is going on,” said Shanti, a resident, who added that even the barricades around the site were put up a few hours after Arun Prashanth drowned in the ditch.

No approval?
When contacted, BDA commissioner Shyam Bhat said that Maverick Holdings did not have permission to start construction as their building plans were not approved. “The High Court ruled in January that no land conversion can be undertaken in the city without permission of the Metropolitan Planning Committee. This land, classified under ‘mixed use’ cannot be given approval for construction for commercial activity. We cannot give them clearance until the land conversion takes place,”

Uday Garudachar, Managing Director of Maverick Holdings, said that BWSSB work along the site’s peripheries had given children access to the construction site, where excavation work had commenced a few months ago. He claimed that as many as 15 security guards are deployed around the site at any given time. “We have got environmental clearances from the government and the the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). The BDA clearance is the next stage, currently we are only doing excavation work.”

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