Two persons were killed after a defunct borewell caved in while they were removing bricks from it on Tuesday in Badra village, 25 kilometres from Barnala.
The deceased have been identified as Charanjit Singh Charna, 50, a labourer and Sukhwinder Singh Kaala, 35, a marginal farmer.
The two were reportedly extracting bricks from the abandoned well to make money by selling it. They were evacuated from the well in an unconscious state after a four-hour operation and taken to the civil hospital where they succumbed to their injuries.
Four evacuation machines and 12 tractors were pressed into service for the rescue operation.
Dhanaula civil hospital medical officer Dr Kakul Bajwa, who attended to the victims after their rescue, said, “Though primary care was provided to the patients immediately, there were bleak chances of their survival as both were not responding to the treatment.”
Barnala sub-divisional magistrate Amarveer Singh Sidhu said, “Chunks of sand suddenly falling from above might have caused shortness of breath. They got buried there. Even with timely help and efforts, both could not be saved.”
Jarnail Singh, a village resident, said, “With the water table getting depleted day by day, the existing borewells are becoming useless and abandoned wells are prone to mishaps.”
Following the incident deputy commissioner Bhupinder Singh issued instructions to fill all such abandoned borewells. Village sarpanch Naazar Singh said, “There are still 10-15 such abandoned bore wells in our village.”
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Darbara Singh Guru said, “I have talked to the chief minister and apprised him of the poor position of families of the victims. He has announced
1-lakh help for each from chief minister’s relief fund.”
The Supreme Court, vide its judgement on February 11, 2010, had suo motu directed the states to fill all discarded and abandoned borewells in their territories with clay, sand, boulders and pebble from bottom to ground level.
The department of ground water, public health and the municipal corporation are required to ensure and certify filling of abandoned borewells to the ground level. The order made it mandatory for deputy collectors to maintain information and data on this.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 50 persons, including three in Punjab, died by falling into borewells in 2014.
A committee, constituted by the ministry of water resources in March, 2009, to examine possibilities of preventing such fatal accidents, had framed guidelines to be followed by the states, union territory governments for this purpose.