The photograph accompanying the report on Mahi’s death (June 25) shows that the open tubewell is located very much amid a block of flats. The owner of the building and the contractor have, no doubt, been criminally negligent. But should not people living in the building also have taken some measures to prevent the tragedy? Could they not foresee such a possibility? The government’s ability to prevent such accidents may be limited. Why aren’t we, the affected citizens, more proactive when the problem lies in our doorstep?
Most accidents take place because of the lack of discipline and the absence of the rule of law. Many pavements are encroached upon forcing people to walk on the roads along with the traffic. Do we take any action? We just take it in our stride.
The government, no doubt, has a duty to cover all borewells. But it is also our duty, as responsible citizens, to inform the government agencies about such wells and try to cover them with our own efforts. Taking the initiative to prevent life threatening accidents is much better than grieving over the consequences or accusing the government.
In my company in the Mayapuri Industrial Area, Delhi, an existing borewell was once deepened because the groundwater level had depleted. Soon after the drilling started, a constable from the Mayapuri police station came calling. He told us that the drilling was illegal, and asked us how deep it was. He then gave us the “rates” for various depths. A sum of Rs. 5,000 was paid and the drilling continued. The water supply in the company returned to normal in two days. A law has no meaning if those expected to enforce it use it to enrich themselves.
Vulnerable children falling prey to death-traps named borewells remains one of the most common incidents in the future “superpower”! Even after the fall and rescue of six-year Prince from a borewell in 2006 drew the nation’s attention to the issue, many children have fallen in open wells and borewells. It is sad that a modern State like Haryana does not have the ability or will to cap the abandoned borewells and tubewells, or at least create a fence around them so that children or animals cannot venture near them.
Ignorance and oblivion have become an endemic disease for which vaccination is yet to be found. Mahi died for no fault of hers.
The tragedy shows that small things matter the most. Had there been a fence around the borewell or oxygen supplied earlier, Mahi could have been saved.