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Friday, July 6, 2012

India: The Hole Truth!

India is a country that is literally littered with gaping unmanned holes—you may call these as bore well or tube well, manholes, pits, shafts or whatever. These are found anywhere—streets, playgrounds or even residential areas in both urban and rural regions. Playful small children are the most vulnerable. They fall into the holes and die or get miraculously rescued sometimes.

The regularity of such incidents being ominously certain it is not known how many of these go unreported. The Indian media showed its tremendous interest only in 2006 when Prince, a small boy of five years, fell into a 60 feet deep open bore well in the northern state of Haryana. For 48 hours the rescue operation aided by army men went live across the country. There was palpable agitation and tension in almost every house in India as people sat glued to the television sets praying for Prince. The boy was finally taken out alive and there were celebrations all around.  Prince became a national hero.

Unfortunately, even after becoming a hero the Prince case did not inspire anybody to try prevent such cases in future or try managing the unattended holes. No lessons learned from the death-defying trauma of a small boy for 48 hours deep inside the earth with only pitch darkness for company. In 2008 another small boy called Suraj died after falling into an unguarded bore well shaft in the north-western state of Rajasthan. Later in the same year a two-year-old boy named Sonu fell into a 150 feet deep bore well pit in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He was brought out dead after four days of rescue operation. The tragedy moved even the then President of India, Pratibha Patil, who issued advisory to all ministries and departments to take preventive action. 

 The incidents continued though. In the central state of Madhya Pradesh two-year-old girl Lalli fell into a bore well and was luckily rescued after five hours. The most recent case getting hysteric national attention was that of Mahi, a four year old girl from Haryana again, who fell into a 70 feet deep bore well just outside her home when running around merrily in the evening of 21st June, 2012. Local authorities responded late and precious hours were lost. The army men started digging a parallel shaft to reach the trapped girl and the rescue operations continued for 86 painful hours. When they finally reached Mahi she was dead. In fact, she died within six hours of falling due to lack of oxygen.

After all the agonized appeals and promises one more tragedy struck Haryana one more time. A boy of five years fell into a manhole yesterday and died submerged in toxic sewer. The gapingly monstrous traps continue to lurk all around and the kids continue to live dangerously in wonderful India. If one tries to think about the experience of a little kid down there in the dark helpless and alone, one can hardly avoid horrifyingly unreal chills going down the spine.

Astounding how a country 'manned' by over a billion could get to have so many unmanned holes!

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