Case against rig operator for failing to cover borewell properly

Three-year-old R. Madhumitha, who was rescued from an abandoned borewell after 19 hours of strenuous efforts, died in the Kallakurichi government hospital in the early hours of Sunday.

The police filed a case against rig operator S. Sakthivel, 32, of Kacheripalayam Road at Thoppur, who sank the borewell, under Section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code. He has been charged with failure to cover the mouth of the borewell properly.

About 8 a.m. on Saturday, the child accidentally fell into the borewell, which was sunk by her father M. Ramachandran, 29, on his farmland at Pallagacheri in the Velananthan panchayat of Thiagadurgam. It was covered with two layers of polythene sacks.

Revenue Department officials, along with police and Fire and Rescue Service personnel, started the rescue operation within an hour of the incident. They pressed ahead without respite till the girl was pulled out in an unconscious state.

She was immediately rushed to the Kallakurichi government hospital in an ambulance. After making strenuous efforts for more than 40 minutes to revive her, the doctors declared her dead and attributed the death to suffocation.

After post-mortem, the body was handed over to the family.

Divisional Fire Officer S. Ganesan told The Hindu that a peep into the borewell revealed that the child was lying in odd angles with her face covered with sack cloths; only her forehead visible.

The child remained conscious till the afternoon. Since the humidity was severe and she was starving, she failed to respond to stimulus in the evening. Therefore, the rescue measures were redoubled with the induction of experts from the TVS Community College, Madurai.

As the experts tried to bring the child out by using a “borewell robot,” an innovative device fitted with two hook-like structures for grabbing the victim, the personnel vigorously dug a parallel pit to a depth of 30 feet.

Mr. Ganesan said the personnel encountered a challenge while trying to establish communication with the child through a connecting channel because the petrol-driven soil-cutter was hardly equal to the task of drilling a hole in the hardened metamorphic rock at such a depth. The tools, driven into the soil surface, puffed up a cloud of dust, impeding the operation.

Meanwhile, the rescue attempt suffered a setback. After pulling up the child to 10 feet, one of the hooks of the robotic arm gave away, the child slipping back to the 30-foot depth.

Mr. Ganesan said that against odds, a compressor driven drilling machine was used to carve out a hole big enough for a fire service man to put his head and hand through to pull the child out.

Since Saturday was the last day for filing nominations for the Lok Sabha elections, Collector Sampath, also the Returning Officer, made a brief visit to the place to oversee the operation.

The police had a tough time keeping away a large number of people surging towards the pit.

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