Two-year-old Sujith Wilson, who slipped into a borewell on Friday evening in a village in Tiruchi has died.
Rescuers, who reached the 90 ft borewell where he lay trapped could not save him. After four days of herculean efforts, officials recovered his decomposed body at the pit in his Nadukattupatti village near Manapparai in Tiruchi district in the early hours of Tuesday.
With each passing hour, hope receded. It was evident that there was no sign of life after Sujith stopped breathing in the early hours of Saturday. Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar said then said his condition was critical. Oxygen was pumped into the pit, but it could not reach him at that depth.
Agencies of the national and State disaster response forces tried their best to retrieve him from the narrow pit the whole of two days as he slipped deeper into the pit from 30 ft to nearly 88 ft. Then gave up.
Giant rigs and drillers from Neyveli Lignite Corporation, the ONGC and the L&T were requisitioned on Sunday, Deepavali day, to dig a second borewell adjacent to the one where the boy lay motionless.
But it took several hours as hard rocks made the job difficult. The rigs could dig only the rate of 10 ft an hour. They could not blast the hard rock as it will disturb the child who stuck sit in the borewell a few metres away.
Officials could not use gelatine sticks to blast the rock as seismic shock would lead to greater subsidence in the ill-fated well where Sujith was trapped.
In the early hours of Tuesday a parallel bore well was dug and a tunnel built through which rescuers reached Sujith. Fire service personnel with torch light and gas masks got into the well at great risk and reached him only to find him dead
His highly decomposed body was brought up to the agony of his parents Britto Aryogyaraj and Kala Mary in whose abandoned dry well has claimed his life.
Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, who camped at the rescue site for the past two days, were the first to pay homage to the boy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi joined the nationwide prayer for Sujith. But it was in vain.
Sujith was the 14th victim of abandoned borewell in Tamil Nadu in the last decade or so. Demands have been made to find out how many such wells are there in the drought prone State. Madras Institute of Development Studies professor M S Janakarajan, who is an expert in water management, has said there will be lakhs of such open dry wells in Tamil Nadu.
Instead of identifying each of them and closing them, it would be wiser to convert them into ponds after raising compound walls around so that they could be used to store rainwater, he said.
Besides creating awareness about the dangers of leaving such dry borewells open, activists including Manithi Maiyam leader Kamal Hassan have also said those who have dug them without licence and left them open should be booked and punished.
Demands have also been made that the Government should help the farmers, who had sunk lakhs of rupees into such useless wells, should be financially assisted to close them.
According to statistics, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra top the list of such bore well tragedies in the country.