In yet another instance, an 11-year-old boy drowned in a water-filled pit on Sunday at Avadhpuri locality in Bhopal, raising concerns about uncovered pits in the state which have turned killer this rainy season.
The boy, identified as Shivansh Kulche, a resident of Bhopal development authority (BDA) colony in the locality, was playing with his younger brother and friends near the 7-ft deep water-filled pit at around 10 am when he slipped and fell into, Avadhpuri police said.
On being informed, his parents pulled him out of the pit and rushed him to a hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, they said.
“The police have registered the matter under section 174 of CrPC and investigations are on,” said investigating officer, sub-inspector Mahesh Kapoor.
Pits dug up for mining and quarrying minor minerals and construction materials have claimed the lives of a number of children in the state in the recent past.
On July 23, three children drowned in a rainwater-filled trench in Sagar district dug illegally for extraction of construction materials along a road. On Friday, a seven-year-old tribal girl drowned in a rainwater-filled stone quarry pit near Laliya village in Panna district.
Similar incidents have been reported in the last few years where about 10 children drowned in pits left open and unfenced after mining of minerals.
Local residents told HT that there were a number of illegal pits left open after stone quarrying and mining of minor minerals which get filled with water during rainy season, endangering lives of local children and cattle.
Sources in the forest department said such pits are created whenever there is large scale mining or excavation for murram or stones in the outskirts of cities and towns to feed the construction activity within urban areas.
The state government has failed to ensure implementation of norms for mining activity, especially with respect to closure of the mining and stone quarrying pits after the mining activity is completed.
When contacted, director geology and mining VK Austin asserted that it was the responsibility of the mining operators to take care of the safety aspect around pits, whether operational or ceased.
“The mine has to be closed and refilled after the mining activity has been completed. In case mining activity is in progress, the operators have to erect a fence around the mine to ensure nobody falls in the pit or drowns in it if water inundates it,” he said.
Austin said he will direct all the district mining officers to ensure that all mining pits are closed and all norms are followed.
Recently, the National Green Tribunal had noted in its order that mining operations were being conducted for commercial purposes after obtaining temporary quarry permits under Rule 68 of the Minor Mineral Rules, 1996, which does not require sanction of mining lease.
As per MP Minor Mineral Rules, for mining minor minerals used in construction activity after processing, a quarry lease is given to operators by collector, director and state government, depending upon type of minerals and size of area applied for.
However, operators violate these rules and get only a temporary permit for leveling the land or removing minerals or materials from the site, and use the site for excavation of minerals and materials for commercial activity.
Recently, during a surprise inspection in Gwalior, forest department authorities found 42 dumpers illegally ferrying stones quarried from Ghategoan North range, leaving behind huge mining pits.
July 29, 2016: A seven-year-old tribal girl drowns in a rainwater-filled stone quarry pit near Laliya village in Panna district.
July 23, 2016: Three children drown in a rainwater-filled trench in Sagar district. Trench was created due to illegal excavation for construction of a road.
May 9, 2015: In Satna district’s Bamhor village, 17-year-old drowns in a pit left by sand mining
August 16, 2014: Four children drown in a trench formed by illegal-mining near Bhadkiya village in Indore
March 16, 2016: SDM Burhanpur KR Badole, who tried to stop illegal sand mining in Tapti river, attacked by sand mafia who, according to him, also tried to drown his boat.