PIL filed in Supreme Court protesting bore well deaths in the wake of fatal fall of 2-year old Sujith Wilson
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PIL filed in Supreme Court protesting bore well deaths in the wake of fatal fall of 2-year old Sujith Wilson

Meera Emmanuel

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court of India, protesting the inaction of the Government in preventing children from falling into open or abandoned bore wells and tube wells. The plea has been filed in the wake of two-year-old Sujith Wilson’s fatal fall into an abandoned bore well in Trichy, Tamil Nadu last Friday.

Although continuous rescue operations commenced on Friday evening, the officials were unable to rescue the boy in time. The boy had stopped responding to vocal calls on Saturday morning. His decomposed remains were recovered by the officials in the early hours of Tuesday morning, reported the New Indian Express.

Sujith’s fall has prompted advocate GS Mani to approach the Supreme Court citing the failure of the Government at State and Central level to comply with the Court’s 2010 guidelines to prevent bore well/tube well deaths. His plea also points out that such deaths have been reported across the country.

Placing reliance on newspaper reports, the petitioner highlights that in 2012, Madhya Pradesh saw 67 children dying on account of falling into such bore wells and tube wells. Similar deaths have been seen in Maharashtra (39), Uttar Pradesh (19), Gujarat (18) and Tamil Nadu (13). In June this year, a two-year-old boy died in Punjab after being stuck in a bore well for nearly 110 hours. A similar death of a six-year-old was also reported from Pune.

This latest deplorable incident of Sujit in Tamil Nadu’s Trichy has again brought to the message of its dangers of uncovered bore wells and tube wells as many of small children fallen to deaths into such dangerous abandoned opened box well and tube well (sic)”, the petitioner contends.

Mani goes on to argue that not only has the Tamil Nadu State authorities failed to take any steps to prevent the death of small children who fall into abandoned or open bore wells and tube wells, but they have failed to implement or comply with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in this regard. After the judgment was passed, there have been several incidents clearly evincing the total failure of the Government to do their part to prevent the death of innocent children from falls into such wells, the petition states.

In view of the same, the petitioner has now called on the Supreme Court to issue a certiorarified mandamus calling for the State and Central governments to submit records of the steps they have taken to prevent children from falling down abandoned or opened tube wells and bore wells, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 2010 guidelines.

In 2010, the Supreme Court had issued the following, among other, precautionary directions when it came to the construction of bore wells and tube wells, i.e.

  • Before constructing a bore well or tube well, the owner is to inform authorities at least 15 days in advance
  • Registration is mandatory before constructing such bore wells or tube wells
  • A signboard must be erected near the bore well or tube well with details such as the address of the drilling agency, address of the owner and user agency
  • Barbed wire fencing must be put in place near the well
  • A cement of concrete platform of prescribed dimensions must be erected around the well
  • The well must be capped with a steel plate which should be strongly fixed with casing pipe, bolts and nuts
  • If the pump is to be repaired, the well should not be left uncovered,
  • Filling of mud pits and channels after the repair is completed
  • Filling up abandoned bore wells from bottom to ground with clay, sand, drill cuttings etc. 
  • On completion of drilling operations, ground conditions are to be restored to how it was before the drilling
  • District Collector should be empowered to verify that these guidelines are following. The same is to be monitored as well through government authorities. 
  • The district/block/village wise status of bore wells/tube wells including the number of wells in use, the numbers abandoned, whether they are filled up etc. should be maintained at District level. 
  • If bore wells or tube wells are abandoned at any stage, a certificate is to be obtained from the prescribed authority certifying that the well has been filled up. Random inspections should be conducted to ensure that this guideline is followed. Information on this aspect is to be maintained at the level of the District Collector/Block Development officer of the State

The petitioner has also prayed that immediate, necessary action and punishment be ordered against erring government officials for non-compliance with these precautionary measures.

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