Following the tragic death of two-year-old Fatehveer, who succumbed following his 110-hour ordeal in a borewell in Bhagwanpura Village of Punjab's Sangrur district, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered the closure of all open borewells across the state.
The toddler, Fatehveer Singh, passed away early morning on Tuesday after he was taken out of the borewell following a desperate operation to save him. He was brought to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh but he succumbed.
The Chief Minister, while ordering a detailed inquiry into the incident, has sought reports from DCs on all such existing open borewells, with a direction to take immediate corrective action to prevent the recurrence of such catastrophic incidents.
Taking note of the incident, the Chief Minister, who had been personally monitoring the rescue operations of Fatehveer, asked the Disaster Management Group headed by the state's Chief Secretary to finalise a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to check and prevent such incidents. The group, which had been constituted to tackle natural calamities, has also been asked to study the inadequacies, if any, in the relief operations, and give recommendations to ensure better and quicker operations in the future in case of any such or similar manmade disaster.
Other members of the Group include Principal Secretary Finance (PSF), FCRDP Financial Commissioner Rural Development and Panchayat (FCRDP) and Financial Commissioner Development (FCD).
“Have directed all DCs to ensure that no such open borewell exists in any of the districts & have asked them to submit a report within 24 hours. You can call on our helpline number 0172-2740397 if you have information about any such open borewells in your area,” the Chief Minister said.
He added that the district administration had mobilised and initiated rescue operations within minutes of receiving information of the child falling into the 125-feet deep borewell at 4.15 pm on 6th June. NDRF joined in and Army authorities at Patiala, Sangrur and at Chandimandir Command were also immediately informed.
Though NDRF personnel were able to tie a knot around both the child’s wrists within less than 10 hours of arrival, the narrow diameter of the pipe caused Fatehveer to get stuck, forcing them to give up on this method, according to an official spokesperson. Meanwhile, earthmover machines that were rushed to the spot dug a pit to reduce the depth from which the operations were being carried out.
All possible technical support was also provided by the district administration but it took 46 hours to dig a parallel pit and lay pipes against its wall to prevent it from caving in. But problems with the angle at which the pipe was going in further obstructed the operation, necessitating some horizontal digging also.
According to the NDRF officials, who were in constant touch with Army authorities all through the operation, no physical harm was caused to the child during the extraction process, which had to be conducted manually as use of machinery could have potentially harmed the child, especially because of the water requirement of such equipment.
The incident brought to the fore the safety concerns around abandoned and uncovered borewells, taking into account the number of deaths caused, the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered the closure of all borewells across the state.