October 29, 2019
Just like Subhasree’s death put pressure on the politicians and the film stars in Tamil Nadu to eschew erection of banners and hoardings alongside roads and on traffic medians, it is important that Sujith Wilson’s death forces everyone, not just in Tamil Nadu, but across the country to take precautions around open borewells. Especially those that are in an unused condition.
The death of the two-year-old boy at the family’s corn field in Nadukattupatti in Trichy district in Tamil Nadu is not the first such tragedy to come from rural India. But it is important that it be the last. Because no child deserves to die like this. Because no parent should go through such trauma. Because India should not be losing its young ones like this.
What needs to be done?
1. Mount a massive publicity campaign to sensitise people on the dangers of leaving borewells open. Like we do for riding bikes wearing helmets or against drunken driving. The blanket television media coverage given to Sujith in Tamil Nadu has ensured awareness and the government needs to use that while it is still fresh in everyone’s memory.
2. Village administration officers need to undertake regular inspections and make closing of unused borewells a priority. Because all it takes is a big stone or even better, a well-fitting cap to ensure the opening is closed. The firm that digs the borewell should also be made responsible for any mishap that occurs so that it too will be under pressure to ensure compliance. In the event of laxity found during an inspection, the firm or individual should be barred from digging borewells.
3. In case the boulder is removed in unused borewells, the authorities should make it compulsory for a second lid to be installed at a depth of say 7-8 feet so that it can act as a valve to prevent the toddler from plumbing to greater depths. This, experts say, is a simple mechanism to prevent accidents from becoming a tragedy.
4. Even in the case of borewells that are being used, it ought to be ensured that there are signboards for adults to read and some kind of protective wiring or a raised platform around the borewell, to prevent toddlers from approaching it.
5. According to the law enacted in Tamil Nadu in 2014, it is mandatory for users to obtain a permit and follow safety measures with the violation attracting a fine of up to Rs 50000 and even a jail term. The administration needs to put the fear of the law to ensure the rules are followed.