CHENNAI: At an alarming intervals, children fall into open borewells, which continue to remain vertiable death traps. Utter negligence and violation of guidelines apart from lack of enforcement are cited to be the cause for these deaths, says a study.
Between September 2013 and April 2014, four children slipped into bore wells across Tamil Nadu and among them only one was rescued alive. The death of three was also due to failure of rescue techniques and applications. All the children have fallen into them within 10 days of their digging.
These borewells are abandoned due to lack of ground water, says a study conducted jointly by Centre for Child Rights and Development (CCRD), Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY) and Resource Centre for Participatory Development Studies (RCPDS).
For the study, ‘Open Bore Wells and Series of Deaths of Children in the State of Tamil Nadu’, a fact finding team had met and interviewed the relatives of the victims and those involved in the rescue process.
In the four cases, the children were trapped between 10 and 40 ft depth in these neglected and abandoned bore wells and the rescue process took 9 to 45 hours. While two of the incidents took place in Thiruvannamalai district, one each happened in Villupuram and Tirunelveli districts.
According to the study, people are unaware of the safety measures and the supreme court guidelines issued in 2010 and amended in 2013 have not been effectively implemented.
In Thiruvannamalai district, all borewells dug by the government are protected with cement slabs. However the district administration has not taken any measure on capping of unused ones with steel plates.
The fact finding team also found that after the tragic incident in Tirunelveli, two more bore wells were erected in the same village without any approval.
“While there is no information on private bore wells, involvement of middlemen from other states without proper permit documents has created a lack of accountability”, says I Pandiyan, a member of the fact finding team. According to a report from the Ministry of Home Affairs, across the country, a total of 561 children have died after slipping into the open bore wells between 2010 and 2012, including 24 children from Tamil Nadu.
Robotic arm needs upgradation
After the rescue of his son from a borewell in 2003, Manikandan, a plumber from Madurai, has developed a robotic arm to rescue children who get trapped in bore wells. On receiving information of trapped children, Manikandan travels to the place at his own expense and lends a helping hand in the rescue operation. However, his technology needs to be modernised keeping in mind the state of the traumatised child and the dimensions of the borewell.