Pune: 6-year-old dies after falling into borewell in drought-hit Shirur

A senior NDRF officer involved in the 31-hour rescue operation claims the boy was alive when he was rescued

Pune: A six-year-old boy lost his life, remaining stuck for over 31 hours in an abandoned borewell in drought-affected Shirur, a Pune taluka. The 200-foot borewell was dug to search for water, but was not filled. Rampant digging of borewells has been reported all across Maharashtra, which is reeling under an intense water crisis, with drought looming large in many parts of the state.

The child’s legs can be seen dangling while an NDRF personnel stands there
The child’s legs can be seen dangling while an NDRF personnel stands there

On Saturday, Sunil Haridas More, a native of drought-affected Beed, accompanied his grandmother as she went to work on the farm belonging to Navnath Shitole. While playing, he slipped and fell 20 feet into the borewell and remained stuck there for 31 hours and 35 minutes. Shitole immediately informed the police who inspected the spot and realised that they need help from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Sunil Haridas More
Sunil Haridas More

“We received a call around 12.50 pm and by 4.30 pm we had reached the spot. Prior to reaching there, we had asked the local authorities to supply oxygen to him and start digging a parallel hole,” said Sachidanand Gawade, deputy commandant of NDRF.

The operation involved 26 NDRF personnel, 15 fire brigade officials and 10-15 police officers. The child was finally pulled out of the tunnel on Sunday around 7:30 pm. Gawde claims that when Sunil was rescued, his pulse was beating. He was first taken to a private hospital in the village but was later shifted to Sasson hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 10: 30 pm.

The post-mortem report said that the child died due to suffocation.

The parents, however, were not ready to take the body back for the final rites and alleged that the kid died due to a delay by the authorities.

“We had come to Shirur to work. On Saturday (the day of the incident), we planned to have lunch together. Sunil has not eaten anything since morning. Recently, we had celebrated his birthday and from June, he was to join school. I could hear his voice till Sunday afternoon. The police delayed the whole process,” recalled a traumatised Haridas, Sunil’s father.

Inspector Bhagwan Nimbalkar, in-charge of Shirur police station, denied that they reached the spot late.

“The moment we received the call from Shitole via the control room, we rushed to the spot and immediately alerted the district authorities,” emphasised Nimbalkar.

The family later agreed to take the child’s body to Beed for the final rituals that took place yesterday. A case of accidental death has been filed, as of now.

Tehsildar says
Tehsildar of Shirur division, Rajendra Pol said, “We will soon come up with some concrete measure to help cease illegal borewell digging. Last year, too, a similar incident had taken place.”

Drought-hit Pune and the fallout
“There is only 40 per cent water in Khadakwasla dam (the main source of water for Pune) that needs to sustain till June or till monsoon arrives. In Shirur, most of the farmers cultivate banana, pomegranate or tomato, which require a lot of water. Since there is water scarcity, they are digging up these borewells. There is no proper guideline for digging of borewells set by the government,” said a senior officer of the revenue department of Pune district administration. One is held accountable only when the dug-up borewell is not filled.

Past instances
This incident has added onto the long list of several accidents that has taken place in Shirur.

March 9: Four-year-old boy fell into a 280-ft deep borewell in Gondia district

July 20, 2013: Four-year-old girl fell into an open dry borewell in Shirur taluka.

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