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How Negligence & Apathy Kill Kids Trapped In Deadly Borewells

Lack of routine check by officials, not punishing negligent officers has killed several children stuck in borewells.

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3 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

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Who killed Sujith Wilson?

On 25 October 2019, 2 year old Sujith Wilson fell into a borewell in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu. After over 80 hours of rescue efforts and prayers, the child was declared dead in the wee hours of 29 October.

Sujith is not the only one.

As per a report by National Disaster Response Force, since 2009, more than 40 children have fallen into borewells. And on an average, 70 percent of conventional rescue operations have failed.

  • Back in June this year, 2-year-old Fatehveer Singh, made headlines after being stuck in a 150-feet deep borewell in Punjab for almost 109 hours.
  • One-and-a-half-year-old Chinnari, had fallen into an abandoned borewell in a village in Telangana in June 2017. Two days of rescue efforts passed in vain as the child slipped in further into the pit and eventually died.
  • 4-year-old Seema died after a 14-hour rescue operation failed. She had fallen into a 400-feet bore well in Rajasthan in May 2019. It was found out later that the girl’s father had taken the tubewell to the farm for repair and left the borewell open.
Sujith is not the only one who lost his life. On an average, 70 percent of conventional rescue operations have failed.
Sujith is not the only one who lost his life. On an average, 70 percent of conventional rescue operations have failed.
(Photo: PTI)

Accountability Is Just a Farce

Each one of these cases could have been avoided altogether, if the panchayat officials had carried out routine inspections and ensured no borewell shaft is left open. The public too is to be blamed for their negligence and for not reporting to the authorities.

We have sent Chandrayaan to the moon but we have still not developed a life-saving technology for underground. The Tamil Nadu IT department has offered Rs five lakh award money for anyone who can come up with technology to rescue children trapped in borewells.

According to the Supreme Court guidelines, if a borewell is abandoned at any stage, a certificate from the concerned department is must and such data should be maintained in the District Collector or Block Development Office. Further, fencing around borewell is must at the time of construction and repair.

Hundreds gather for Sujith’s burial after eight hours of effort to bring him out a borewell failed.
Hundreds gather for Sujith’s burial after eight hours of effort to bring him out a borewell failed.
(Photo: PTI)
But why was the borewell left open in the first place?
Also, was any substantial punitive action ever taken against officials who left borewell shafts uncovered, unmarked or unfenced ?

The Quint verified how in a few cases in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, no action was taken and is waiting to hear from some police officers regarding some other cases. Did any negligent babu lose his job over the death of a child in a borewell? The answer is no. Accountability remains just a farce.

There shouldn’t be another Sujith. Let us start by reporting, ensuring we follow guidelines and punish those who are negligent. This will help ensure lives are not lost than just posting about his death by using a hashtag.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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