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HC raps TN govt over toddler's death in borewell, asks whether it needs a corpse to act on rules


Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court on Tuesday rapped the Tamil Nadu government after the decomposed body of a two-year-old boy was pulled out from an unused borewell, asking whether it needs a corpse to act on implementing each and every rule in the state.
In strong oral observations, the court also slammed the media, saying it was not streaming anything constructive in creating public awareness on the implementation of rules and regulations on borewells and tubewells, except giving a live relay on the rescue operations that eventually ended on a tragic note.
Rescuers pulled out the decomposed and mangled body of Sujith Wilson early Tuesday from deep inside a borewell, after a futile 80-hour attempt to save the child who had fallen in while playing near his house in a village in Tamil Nadu's Tiruchirappalli district.
The court further observed that everybody has a social responsibility to bring awareness and it is more on the media in publishing the guidelines issued by the state government based on the Supreme Court's order.
A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee was hearing a petition seeking a direction to authorities for strict implementation of guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and for enforcement of The Tamil Nadu Panchayats (Regulations of Sinking of wells and Safety Measures) Rules 2015.
When the plea was taken up, the bench observed whether the government needs a "dead body" for implementation of each and every rule.
The court impleaded the civic authorities and directed them to produce details on the action taken against violators who had failed to comply with the conditions stipulated for digging borewells and tubewells.
The plea was filed by V Ponraj, a scientist who had worked with former president late APJ Abdul Kalam and was the Director, Technology Interface, at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.
The court said the counter-affidavit to be filed by November 21 should have details on the number of permissions granted and the list of contractors and entities who were accorded permission to dig borewells and tubewells and a list of unused and abandoned borewells and tubewells as well as the penal action taken against the violators.
The court has impleaded principal secretaries to Municipal Administration and Water Supply department and Rural Development Panchayat Raj as parties.
The petitioner, citing the Supreme Court order in 2009 and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2013, alleged that the Tamil Nadu government did not comply with the guidelines which led to a similar tragedy in Tiruvannamalai district in 2012.
Immediately after this incident, a plea was filed before the High Court and on the basis of the court direction, a special Act to prevent such incidents was enacted and the Tamil Nadu Panchayats ( Regulations of Sinking of wells and Safety Measures) Rules 2015 came into force, the petitioner said.
This was also not complied with by authorities this time around, he said.
The petitioner, referring to the death of Sujith Wilson, alleged that the main cause was the government's failure in the implementation of both the apex court and the High Court orders and non-compliance of the guidelines.
The petitioner while referring to the rescue operations and the methods adopted, said "The methods adopted by government authorities one after another clearly shows that the government is not in a position to ascertain the ground reality and not prepared or equipped with the rescue operations."

"This is not the first incident, there were many that had taken place in Tamil Nadu," he submitted.

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First Published: Oct 29 2019 | 8:55 PM IST

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