Years ago, TN Govt mandated sealing unused borewells
Chennai,Oct 28 (PTI) Repeat incidents of children falling
into abandoned borewells in Tamil Nadu had prompted the state
government to notify rules early in 2015, mandating safety
measures, including filling discarded wells upto ground level.
As tens of thousands prayed for the safe rescue of
three-year-old Sujith Wilson, trapped in an unused farm
borewell near Tiruchirappalli for over 72 hours, it brought
back the focus on such uncovered defunct borewells.
After Tamil Nadu witnessed such repeat incidents in April
2014, the government amended local laws in August that year,
including the 'Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act' to further regulate
sinking of wells and related aspects like its proper
The amendments mandated permission from authorities for
sinking wells and its non-compliance, attracting a minimum of
three years imprisonment.
After such amendments, the government notified the 'Tamil
Nadu Panchayats Rules' and 'The TN Municipalities Rules,' both
on regulation of sinking of wells and safety measures, in
early 2015.
Under the norms, a permit has to be taken for sinking,
deepening or rehabilitation of a well and an application has
to be made for grant of certificate of registration to carry
on the business of sinking wells.
The rules on safety aspects mandate that every holder of
the permit or owner of a well in use or disuse, shall, while
sinking, deepening or rehabilitating a well, adhere to
specified norms.
It should be ensured that the well is not left uncovered
during recess or cessation of work.
Clause 'd' under the head safety measures specifies "fill
up abandoned wells upto the ground level using clay, sand,
boulder or any other suitable materials."
Before commencing work, signboards should be erected in a
conspicuous manner at the site of the well, displaying the
nature, width and depth of the well and the name, address and
contact details of the owner.
The rules also mandate that barbed wire fencing or any
other suitable barrier be put up around the site of the well.
On such rules mandating safety measures, senior advocate
Sudha Ramalingam said though there are laws to govern the
matter, she alleged "lethargic execution and lack of proper
supervision" by competent authorities.
"We wake up only when something of this sort happens and
later forget it. There is no proper understanding of the rules
and people are also not cooperative.
It may not be prudent to look forward to the government
to correct things in my compound. It is my duty to see that a
defunct borewell in my backyard is properly shut," she told
PTI, adding that as a nation "we have very little regard for
human lives."
In September 2014, the Madras High Court had disposed a
PIL plea on abandoned borewells after the Tamil Nadu
government submitted that suitable amendments have been made
to enactments to provide for more regulations and stringent
Such incidents have occurred in other parts of the
country as well, including neighbouring Karnataka, which had
years ago said a total of 1,47,786 defunct borewells have been
closed in view of mishaps involving children.
In the wake of such incidents, the Supreme Court had in
2010 directed all states to cap all abandoned borewells in
their territories and to properly fence all the working wells
to prevent small children falling into them.
The top court had also directed random inspection of the
abandoned wells by authorities. PTI VGN APR

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)