The Madras High on Tuesday blamed the Tamil Nadu Government for the accidental death of two-year-old Sujith WIlson after his fall into an open borewell in Tiruchi and asked, in an apparent reference to death of techie Subasree in Chennai after an illegal hoarding fell on her, whether the Government would enforce rules only after such unfortunate incidents happened.
Admitting a public interest litigation filed by scientist V Ponraj seeking a direction to the Government to follow the Supreme Court order of 2010 in which it set guidelines on field wells. He also sought a direction to the Government to implement Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Regulation of sinking of wells and safety measures) Rules.
As Tamil Nadu mourns the death of Sujith, a two-year-old boy who was brought out dead on Tuesday, four days after fell into an abandoned borewell in Trichy district, the Madras High Court has slammed the government of Tamil Nadu for being ‘blood-thirsty’ and not implementing Supreme Court guidelines on the digging of borewells.
Ponraj, who worked with former President Abdul Kalam as science assistant, said the non-implementation of Supreme Court guidelines had led to the death of Sujith in a borewell abandoned and left open by his father five years ago after failing to strike water.
Recalling the rescue efforts made by the government and by private persons like Manikandan from Madurai and Sridhar from Coimbatore, Ponraj said the Government had wasted golden hours in finding how best to save the boy by trying one method after another. “It clearly shows that the government is not prepared or equipped for the rescue operations.
He said the government should submit a report detailing hour by hour all steps taken. The bench comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice N Seshasayee slammed the state government for waiting for an unfortunate incident to happen before initiating steps to implement something. The judges also remarked that such incidents can be avoided only if every individual acts with social responsibility.
Adding that the officials are not inspecting if rules brought in by the government are followed, the court raised several questions. “Are documents related to the permissions granted to drill borewells in the State maintained? How many borewells have been permitted to be drilled in the state till date? How many borewells are in an abandoned state? What action has been taken against people who have violated the norms?”
The court also said the media, apart from covering the rescue live for four days did not broadcast information about the dangers of abandoned, open borewells.The judges said media has a great share of responsibility in creating awareness.
Ordering the state government to offer compensation for Sujith’s family, the bench ordered the government to respond to its queries before Nov 21.
The Supreme Court had, in 2010, framed guidelines on borewells across the country. They included safety instructions like installing barbed wire fencing or any other suitable fencing around the borewell, warning signs near the borewells, closing the borewell with caps and filling the borewell pit with clay, pebbles etc.
The court had also ordered that these guidelines be sent to every state government which, in turn, should forward it to the district collectors for compliance.