Borewell death: No lessons learnt from 2019 Sangrur incident

Punjab without nodal body to monitor indiscriminate digging | 2019 Sangrur: 2-year-old Fatehveer Singh died | 2022 Hoshiarpur: 6-year-old Hrtihik Roshan dies

Borewell death: No lessons learnt from 2019 Sangrur incident

A file photo of Fatehveer's rescue operation in Sangrur in 2019.

Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, May 23

The state seems to have learnt no lessons from the 2019 Sangrur incident in which two-year-old Fatehveer Singh lost his life after falling into a borewell as six-year-old Hrtihik Roshan too died in a similar mishap in Hoshiarpur last evening.

Minister seeks status report

A status report on borewells has been sought. I’ve also instructed the DCs to ensure plugging of borewells and videograph the process. The govt is pushing various programmes to revive surface water and recharge groundwater. Brahm Shankar Jimpa, revenue and water resources minister

Landowner booked for negligence

  • A day after six-year-old boy’s death, the Garhdiwala police have booked the farmer on whose land the borewell was dug up in Hoshiarpur village
  • On a cop’s complaint, a case has been registered against Satveer Singh of Bairampur village under Sections 304A, 279 and 188 of the IPC

Asphyxia cause of death: Autopsy

  • The autopsy of deceased was conducted at Hoshiarpur Civil Hospital on Monday. The report confirmed Hrithik Roshan died of asphyxiation
  • Later, the police handed over the body to the family of the deceased boy. The last rites of Hrithik will be performed at 10 am on Tuesday. OC

Three years after the Sangrur mishap, the state doesn’t have a nodal authority to monitor borewells being dug up indiscriminately. It continues to grope in the dark about the actual number of borewells — open or functional. There are an estimated 14.5 lakh tubewells and 12,581 villages in the state. Meanwhile, farmers say on an average, there is a borewell at every 5 acres. All these tubewells run unregulated as farmers are not required to seek any permission for new borewells.

After the 2019 incident, under the Tandrust Punjab Mission, the authorities had plugged 2,309 borewells in the state by June-end. But since then there is no record of new borewells dug up or abandoned. When talked to officials of the MC, Soil Conservation Department, DDPOs and Powercom, none of them claimed the responsibility for keeping track of borewells in their respective areas.

Moreover, after floods hit over 138 villages of Jalandhar and Kapurthala in August 2019, the tubewells of existing farmers in this belt had polluted and blackened water, prompting them to dig up new borewells. Farmers say it is more of a compulsion and have been demanding treating of surface water for irrigation as alternative.

Salwinder Singh of Jania village (one of the worst hit in 2019 floods) and president of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said, “Water in the area is laced with chemicals ever since the floods. Many old borewells were polluted, so new ones had to be dug up. Water isn’t clean at less than 200-300-ft deep now. In my village alone, there are about 40 to 50 borewells, while larger ones have thousands. If waters of Kali and Chitti Bein, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi are treated and rid of pollutants, farmers won’t need groundwater.”

Meanwhile, Tandrust Punjab Mission ex-director Kahan Singh Pannu said, “We had launched a statewide probe into borewells after the 2019 incident. But after my retirement, the mission got sidelined. The state needs a monitoring body or such accidents will continue and our aquifers will be empty soon.”

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