More than three days after two-year-old Sonu fell into an uncovered borewell at Lehrakapura village near Shamsabad town, 26 km from Agra, on Thursday, rescue operations are still on.
Surprisingly, the digging of a parallel pit is not yet complete. Police and army officials said the delay was caused by constant mudslides and the bulk of the work being done manually.
The villagers’ patience wore thinner on Sunday and a sense futility seemed to set in among those engaged in the rescue operation. Though the child did not show any sign of activity, officials believe he is alive.
Deputy Inspector General of Police N.K. Shrivastav told HT on Sunday, “We are working continuously. But for the mudslides, we would have completed the task long back.”
“The boy is currently at 72 feet and we have to dig a 75-foot pit and till now we have dug down to 65 feet. But due to the loose earth falling in, the height of the pit keeps decreasing,” said Sukhwinder Singh, deputy commandant of 16 Independent Para Brigade.
He also said there was nothing wrong with the disaster management system and that the best of machines had been pressed into service.
Villagers, however, were resentful of the rescue efforts. Said Sitaram, “There was little planning and coordination between the rescue teams.”
People remembered five-year-old Vandana, who had survived a 27-hour ordeal before being pulled out of a 45-feet borewell in a major rescue operation by the army and the district authorities in Agra.
Recalling the Vandana incident, an officer said, “Refreshments were sent to her and she could be heard crying for food and help. She also responded to the rescuers.”
“The monsoon has made matters worse in this case. The water level has gone up, causing mudslides. Even in Vandana’s case, no follow-up investigations were carried out,” he added.