M A I N   N E W S

A day after Maahi tragedy
Authorities go after sarpanch, landlord
Sunit Dhawan/TNS

Gurgaon, June 25
A day after the body of four-year-old Maahi was pulled out of an illegally dug borewell, the authorities on Monday cranked up the official machinery in an attempt to fix responsibility in the case. Deputy Commissioner PC Meena said a show-cause notice would be issued to the Kasan village sarpanch, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place.

Joint Commissioner of Police Anil Kumar Rao said IPC Section 304 (causing death due to negligence) has been added to the FIR filed by the victim's father Neeraj Upadhyay against the house-owner, Rohtash Tayal, and the drilling agency.

Gurgaon ADC KM Pandurang said the process to record the statements would begin tomorrow. His report is expected to be submitted within 10 days. Sources said Tayal had the pit dug up about a fortnight ago. Since no water was found even after digging 68 feet, the pit was abandoned, sources said.

The bigger picture about the whole incident, however, is that the authorities are unaware as to how many such illegal borewells exist in the area. "We have taken affidavits from the block development officers (BDOs) affirming that there are no uncovered/abandoned borewells in their areas. The BDOs take undertakings from sarpanches," the DC said.

He said the district administration dismantled and sealed 538 illegal borewells over the last few months.

Most of these 'death holes' are not reported because no one complains. Over the past decade, hundreds of migrants have arrived in the city. They find accommodation in small tenements rented out by house-owners. Since drinking water is the first requirement, a landowner is left with no choice but to go in for borewells.

"A few years ago, big machines would take days to scoop out earth to hit the groundwater level. Today, a modern drilling machine finishes the job in about three-four hours. So, a house owner usually gets this work done only at night to escape detection," says a villager.

Given the fact that Gurgaon's population has trebled since 2001 (from 5.77 lakh to 15.14 lakh in 2011), the city is reeling under acute water scarcity. Since there is no knowing when the promised NCR Water Canal with a capacity of 800-cusec supply will be functional, there is enormous pressure on groundwater.

The situation is so grave that in 2010, the Punjab and Haryana High Court specifically directed the Gurgaon administration not to allow digging of any borewell without seeking its concurrence. In August, 2011, the Central Ground Water Authority declared Gurgaon as a notified area and banned the digging of borewells without prior permission.

Death traps

  • Authorities unaware about the number of illegal borewells. The DC says 538 illegal borewells were sealed in the past few months
  • Gurgaon's population has trebled since 2001. The city is reeling under acute water scarcity
  • The promised NCR Water Canal with a capacity of 800-cusec supply is not ready yet
  • Last year, Central Ground Water Authority banned digging of borewells without prior permission





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