“I pray that a need for borewell robot should not arise”

With three separate incidents of children falling into open borewells across the State since April 7, the Madurai Rescue Team, with its borewell robot, has been on its toes.

The team, led by M. Manikandan, a faculty of the Electrical and Plumbing Department at the TVS Community College, armed with its ingenious ‘Borewell robot’ played a vital role in the successful rescue of 4-year-old G. Harshan who was trapped in a borewell near Sankarankoil.

Visibly upset about the fact that they could not save 18-month-old Sujith, who had fallen into a borewell in Tiruvannamalai, the team says the robot was unable grip the hands of the baby due the position he was trapped in.

“Borewells these days are dug at great depth and when abandoned, are simply covered with gunny sacks. In most cases, the abandoned borewells do not have the inner pipe which results in the children getting trapped under mud from the sides of the pit which fall,” says Mr. Vallarasu, a mechanical engineer in a private firm, who is part of the team.

Say in case, people spend about Rs.40,000 for digging a borewell and then when they find no water, they retrieve the inner pipes that help them recover a portion of the money, the team says. And this often becomes the death trap as the slush and mud complicate the rescue operations.

The team members say that parents should refrain from panicking and should keep talking constantly to the child.

“The child should be immediately given oxygen. Any action which scrapes the sides of the pit and loosens the mud should be avoided,” they say. The robot is fitted with a high resolution camera, which is first lowered down into the borewell to monitor the position and movements of the child which is viewed on a mini TV.

“The robot has an ‘arm’ at the end of the structure which is lowered into a borewell through a rope and pulley. I have fashioned different kinds of arms which can be fitted to pull out the child depending on what position he or she is trapped in,” explains M. Thirunavukkarasu, another member and also a faculty member at the TVS College.

P. Rajkumar, a driver with a travels company, is the other member of the team.

The team was felicitated by the Rotary Club of Madurai West with the ‘Vocational Excellence Award’ on Friday where they said that the government should step in and equip the fire and rescue departments across the State with the robot.

“Even though I’ve stated many times that I’ve nurtured this idea and had to work for years to give it a shape, I pray each day that a need for the borewell robot should not arise and that children should stay safe,” Mr Manikandan said, accepting the award.

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