Had the Madhya Pradesh government been serious in implementing the Supreme Court guidelines six years back, the life of 3-year-old Abhay Pachori and that of a number of others who died after being stuck in open bore wells, could have been saved.
Between December 2014 and July 2016, four children slipped into open bore wells across Madhya Pradesh and none of them could be rescued.
These open bore wells are abandoned due to lack of ground water and 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 the state.
On Friday, Pachori fell into an abandoned bore well in his father’s agriculture field and despite efforts by a rescue team, he could not be saved.
Sources said the farmer did not bother to inform authorities that the bore well was abandoned and had not taken any steps to cover it , flouting the top court’s guidelines.
Gwalior collector Sanjay Goel said it was left open after the farmer failed to draw water from the well.
People are unaware of safety measures and the apex court guidelines
People are unaware of the safety measures and the Supreme Court guidelines issued in 2010 and amended in 2013 have not been effectively implemented.
Ramprasad Lodhi, whose son, Krishna, fell into a bore well and died in Chhatarpur in December 2014, says that even after his son died after falling into the well nothing has changed in the village. “After my son’s death, authorities sealed the bore well but there are many other bore wells in the village that are abandoned,” he says.
“There must be a check at the panchayat level to save children from fatal accidents.”
Authorities shed off their responsibilities easily, says PHE official
The major problem in implementing the Supreme Court guidelines is that a number of departments are involved in the entire process of digging a well and authorities shed off their responsibilities easily, says a senior public heath engineering (PHE) department official.
“Apart from the PHE, a number of other departments, including the irrigation department, district administration, Municipal Corporation, ground water department, agriculture department and the local panchayat are involved in the process,” he says.
“Usually the owner of land is aware of the guidelines and to whom he should report.”
GS Damor, chief engineer of the PHE , however, says his department is following the guidelines. “ And if wells are being dug by any individuals on their own, the district administration and irrigation department should take action against them.”
Former state chief secretary Nirmala Buch says that children fall into open bore wells, which continue to remain veritable death traps. Utter negligence and violation of guidelines apart from lack of enforcement are the major cause for these deaths, he says.
“Implementing the guidelines is necessary but more than that strict punishment should be meted out to those responsible for deaths of children who fall into the wells,” he says.
“ Death of children should be treated as murder not accident.”
December 2015: A four-year-old child fell into a 125-feet deep bore well at Mundla village in Ujjain district. He was found dead after a 27-hour rescue operation.
October 2015: Three-year-old Raghav Sharma fell into a bore well in Morena district. He was found dead by the rescue team after two days.
December 2014: A 14-month-old boy, Krishna fell into an open bore well in Chhatarpur’s Lidhora village and died.
What SC guidelines say
The land/premises owners should inform well in advance in writing before the construction of bore well/tube well to the concerned authorities
Registration of all drilling agencies should be mandatory with the district administration.
Erection of signboard at the time of construction near the well with the details, including the address of the drilling agency, the user agency/owner is mandatory
Erection of barbed wire fencing or any other suitable barrier around the well during construction
In case of pump repair, the tube well should not be left uncovered
Filling of mud pits and channels after the digging work is completed
The abandoned bore wells must be filled with by clay/sand/boulders/pebbles/drill cutting right from the bottom of the well up to the ground level.
On completion of the drilling operations, the ground condition has to be restored to what it was before the start of drilling
District collectors should be empowered to verify that the guidelines are being followed and monitor the status