Last year a friend of mine talked to me about this issue of bore-well deaths. I had no clue about this until she pointed it out. Basically, what is happening is, people dig very very deep bore-wells hoping to strike water. Which is a good idea, BUT, in case they do not strike water, they do not care to cover up the well! The result is horrendous! These are some headlines my friend has compiled:
"A nine-year-old boy who fell into an open borewell in Karnataka's Raichur district was today found dead after a 55-hour operation to rescue him. The body of Sandeep, which had started decomposing, was pulled out of the borewell in Neermanvi village in the district this evening, Additional Superintendent of Police P B Kitali told PTI. He fell into the abandoned borewell in an agricultural field at around noon on Tuesday and was stuck at a depth of about 40 feet. "
"Bikaner, April 2007: Girl trapped in borewell dies. A one-and-a-half year old girl, who got trapped inside a 155-feet deep borewell at a village in Bikaner two days ago, was found dead"
"MP: Boy falls into borewell. A three-year-old boy fell into a 50ft borewell at Goreshwar village near on Sunday, prompting the administration to launch a rescue operation"
"Dharmapuri Feb.16. Two persons were arrested yesterday in connection with the death of a four-year-old boy, who fell into a 605-foot deep borewell at Athiyaman Kottai here on Friday."
There are a lot more such incidents that she had in her report. I have picked just a few of them to highlight the point that the problem is all over India! Rescue teams spend hours and some times days in futile attempts to save these little kids. A lot of money is also spent in these missions. In most cases they are unable to save the kids. The owners are arrested and prosecuted, but yet, not many folks bother to cover up these pits.
The first thing that would come to mind to prevent this is to cover the pits with chamber covers. But this would not work! The covers would get stolen in NO time! The solution that my friend, a landscape architect, has come with is this:
The easiest way to stop this is getting the borewell agencies to list sites where they havent struck water....and simply plant a tree in them. These pits are 9" to 3' in diameter and go upto 80-150' down. The roots will hold on to the soil and fill the pit as well as make the world lil greener. A root ball is 15" to 18". We can get plants about 15' tall. If they are smaller, we can put 3 plants around the pit. Within one monsoon, the plant should take charge of filling in the pit by holding onto the soil. Plants have a natural tendency to move towards sunlight, similarly underground the roots move in the direction of easy penetration or loose soil as compared to hard rock... If the pit is too wide to plant something in, it can be surrounded by 3 plants forming a protective ring to warn people.
The most important thing, though, is to find these unguarded pits. My friend is looking into what sort of registration (if any) is done before digging is started, and when the work is finished.
It is an extremely simple and effective solution to a horrendous problem!