Are Bore wells in India Gateways to Death?

The woeful death of two-year-old boy Sujit Wilson, who fell into an open borewell in Tamil Nadu again reminding the negligence of authorities to seal abandoned borewells that could have prevented him from losing his life.

The incident reminded the supreme court orders Feb 11th and August 6th 2010 to prevent the fatal accidents of small children due to their falling into abandoned bore wells and tube wells. Nine years ago on 2010 August Supreme court bench compressing CJI Kapadia and Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Swatenter Kumar passed the directions to take immediate action on suo motu cognisance of a spate of incidents, reported from across the country, of children falling into abandoned borewells and issued a series of guidelines to prevent such incidents from recurring. After this order, the death rate had come down but it is still happening as the guidelines have mostly remained on paper.

Over the past 15 years, at least 10 other children had died in a similar manner in Tamil Nadu after falling into an abandoned borewell. Not only this, In 2019 itself similar incidents happened in villages of Jodhpur, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Farukhabad and Tamilnadu.

Among these three children were rescued. We can see that most of the cases, children falling into borewells seem to occur in villages. The reason is in cities, borewells are dug for domestic purposes and are lesser in diameter. But in villages apart from domestic purposes, borewells are dug for agricultural and manufacturing purposes. Some manufacturing companies dig large-diameter borewells. However, many of the borewells in villages do not yield water and are “abandoned” without sealing properly. After some period vegetation takes over and theses borewells are forgotten. As a result a child who wanders over and falls in. Thus innocent children became the victims of uncovered borewells in India.

What could be done?

Out of the 13 guidelines issued by the supreme court, at least critical 2 or 3 should follow strictly such as

• Registration for borewells
• Construction of cement platform for 30cm
• Proper sealing of the abandoned borewells & its intimation to local bodies

Easy registration for the bore wells and yearly tax for the bore wells to the landowners could be a reasonable solution for getting the data properly. The huge cost involved in filling the abandoned wells is the challenge faced by the poor villagers or the farmers to hide the information of such wells. Taking a reasonable deposit at the time of construction and the filling burden should take over by the local bodies will be a better solution to overcome this challenge.

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