TIRUCHY: Experts involved in the operation to rescue Sujith say that the toddler’s gentle hands and the humid conditions inside the borewell made it difficult for them as the ropes with knots slipped from his hands as they tried to lift him up.
They also advised rescue officials in future not to resort to digging parallel borewells as a solution as there are high chances that it may worsen the fate of those stuck inside them.
Starting from 8 pm on Friday night, a three-man team led by Daniel spearheaded the rescue operation. Daniel, who retrieves items from borewells as a profession, devised his own method to rescue babies who are struck inside narrow tunnels.
Speaking to TNIE, Daniel said “In the case of Sujith, he was already inside the borewell for more than three hours by the time I arrived. The surface was rocky and wet. Also, the temperature inside the hole made the baby sweat a lot. The sweat became a major hindrance in our rescue operations as the knots kept slipping away."
Sridhar, another expert from Coimbatore who works in an engineering college, came to the site with his own indigenous equipment. Instead of using knots like Daniel, Sridhar uses a tool named the ‘gripper’ to hold the baby’s hands tight so that he could be pulled up. However, this too failed to help.
Sridhar firmly advised rescue officials not to dig borewells as the first method of recovery. “If you dig another hole or pit, the borewell soil would further get loosened. This will result in soil falling on the baby or the baby going deeper. The safest way to rescue a baby is through the borewell hole only, using some sort of equipment,” he stated.
He also said that people must check on whether their unused borewells are properly closed.
“We have to cover the borewell opening with a cement concrete box and set up a small fence around it. It would cost just Rs 3000. If we do it, then safety is assured,” he added.
Meanwhile, another expert, Venkatesh from Namakkal, tried to let his machine inside the borewell hole using a pulley. Unfortunately, the diameter of the equipment proved to be larger than the borewell’s as it moved further inside. So the equipment could not even reach Sujith.
As these efforts failed, earthmovers were used to dig a pit near the borewell to rescue the boy. Because of this, the boy who was stuck at 27 ft went further down to 70 ft. This made the rescue operation even more challenging.
The state government had cracked the whip on the owners of open borewells four years ago. In 2014, the collectors were instructed to ensure there were no open unused borewells in their districts. In 2015, the state government formulated rules for granting permits for the sinking of wells following a similar incident.
Also, the Supreme Court in 2010 issued directions like erection of signboards near borewells and barbed wire fencing around it.
The apex court directed the village panchayat to monitor borewell safety in rural areas and municipal corporations in urban areas.
The court clearly said that if a borewell was abandoned, a certificate must be obtained from the concerned authorities.