Death traps

The death of a four-year-old girl, Mahi, who fell into an open borewell in Manesar in Haryana, has again brought to the fore the lack of safety consciousness and a callous neglect of official and citizen duty that pervades all areas of life in the country.

Given the circumstances,  the attention of the whole nation was engaged in the rescue efforts for days. Though the best efforts were mounted to rescue the girl from the 70-feet borewell in which she had fallen accidentally, it was impossible and the inevitable happened. It is not the first time that such tragedies have occurred. The danger posed by open borewells has been discussed every time such an unfortunate incident has taken place and still they continue to happen, choking the life out of innocent children.

Mahi lost her life because the simple precaution of capping the borewell was not taken by those who dug it. Such criminal negligence is common all over the country. After some such accidents were brought to the attention of the court, the Supreme Court had directed all state governments to ensure that all abandoned borewells are capped.

The officialdom obviously did not follow the directive and there would still be many open borewells which are waiting for disasters. In fact there is no need for a court intervention in these simple cases of safety precautions.

It is the civic duty of every one to make sure that any activity, digging of borewells, construction of buildings and the like, does not pose a danger to lives or even inconvenience to people. But the absence of that sense of duty and the callousness of officials who should make sure that the best and safest practices are followed result in these tragedies. Those who were responsible for the Manesar tragedy, both the builder of the borewell and the officials who were negligent, should be made to pay for their lapse.

There are lurking dangers everywhere. Ill-maintained and bad roads, unmanned railway crossings, hanging electric wires and open manholes are all death traps. Proper arrangements for crowd control are hardly made in places where people gather for public functions or festivities.

Large numbers of people lose their lives because of lack of attention and inaction in these areas. These can be avoided if there is a better culture of public safety among citizens and a higher sense of responsibility among officials at all levels.

Comments (+)