Mishap: Villagers of Rongthong in Trashigang are asking compensation from project DANTAK after a nine-year old boy drowned in one of the pits the project had dug up and left open below the Draktsho vocational centre.

The incident occurred on August 15 when the class II student of Rongthong Primary School on his way home decided to take a dip in the rainwater filled pit. The depth of the pit was approximately seven feet.

Rongthong tshogpa, Sangay Dorji said that more than a case of mishap, project DANTAK should get the blame for being negligent on safety aspects.

“They should have at least fenced the area to prevent such incidents,” he said.

After the incident, 15 villagers approached the gewog administration to discuss on how the matter should be dealt. Kanglung gup Kinzang Dorji said they might formally take up the issue with project DANTAK soon.

“Villagers are very disturbed with the incident,” he said. “There are eight similar pits excavated along the highway from Rongthong towards Trashigang.”

Project DANTAK officials said the pit was excavated to extend the already existing culvert across the highway, from six meters to 10 meters.  It is a part of the ongoing Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway widening works.

Officer Commanding, Kumar Jayant said it usually takes about four to five days to come up with the two abutments before slabs are placed. Until then, the pit remains exposed but barricaded.

“To avoid vehicles from falling into the pit, an excavator was parked on one side of the pit while construction materials like boulders and sandbags were kept on the other side as barriers,” he said.

Following the incident, project DANTAK officials would be erect barricading poles on all four corners of the pit to indicate that work is ongoing. However, the project cannot come up with permanent barriers for temporary activities.

Should they receive in writing the compensation aspect from the public, it would be forwarded to higher authorities, according project officials.

Meanwhile, report with the police state that the incident occurred around 12:14pm. Two other students had accompanied the deceased.

The family of the deceased received Nu 10,000 from His Majesty’s kidu office.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang