Two-year-old Sujith Wilson is not the only child to have met with a tragic end after falling into an abandoned bore well. After nearly 80 hours of struggle to rescue the boy from a depth of 88-feet bore well, authorities retrieved his decomposed body in the early hours of Tuesday.
Before Sujith, at least 10 other children had died in a similar manner in Tamil Nadu over the past 15 years. The toddler’s death brought to the fore the lack of awareness on sealing unused bore wells and public apathy towards taking safety measures.
Inexplicably, April 2014 saw repeat incidents of innocent children becoming victims of uncovered bore wells in the state. In September 2013, a six-year-old girl child died after falling into a borewell in Pulavanpadi village in Tiruvannamalai District.
A three-year-old girl, R Madhumita, got stuck at about 30 feet of a 500-feet borewell at her father’s farm at Pallagaseri village near Villupuram in April 2014. She fell into the well, covered with a polythene sack when she stepped on it accidentally while playing. After a 19-hour long struggle, she was rescued alive by multiple teams working in tandem but later died in a hospital.
Days after this mishap, a four-year-old boy named Harshan fell into a well, also located on a farm at Kuthalapuri in Tirunelveli district. Rescuers battled for more than five hours and brought the child out alive.
A day after the successful rescue, an 18-month old toddler fell into an unused borewell at Kidampalayam village, about 50 km from Tiruvannamalai. D Sujith was playing near a farm along with some family members when he fell into it.
Stuck at about 47 feet in the 200 feet borewell, his body was taken out after 24-hours of rescue efforts. Sujith’s fall into the bore well was the third such mishap in April 2014 in Tamil Nadu. While Harshan was saved, Madhumita and Sujith were not lucky enough.
It was a “borewell robot”, an indigenous device developed by a Madurai-based social worker, that saved Harshan.
In an interview to PTI, social worker M Manigandan had said that the trigger for developing the device was his son’s accidental fall into a borewell in 2003 and the painful rescue efforts.
In the past about 15 years, at least 13 children have fallen into unused bore wells in Tamil Nadu alone and only three of them were rescued alive.
The rescued include Harshan (2014), a three-year-old boy in 2012 at Thali in Krishnagiri district and another boy in Dindigul district in 2004.
Several such mishaps have occurred in other parts of the country as well, including neighbouring Karnataka and as recently as in June this year, when a child fell a victim in Punjab.
Two-year-old Fatehvir Singh fell into a cloth-covered well in a farm while playing at Bhagwanpura village. The well was covered with a cloth on which the boy had accidentally stepped on it. His mother desperately tried to save him but to no avail.
Unsuccessful efforts to rescue him safely went on for about 110 hours and eventually the boy’s body was pulled out of the 150-feet deep unused bore well.
As early as 2010, following several incidents of children falling into unused bore wells, the Supreme Court had framed guidelines to prevent children from falling into unused bore wells.
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