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District magistrates should ensure borewells are capped: court

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) District magistrates would be held responsible in case of children falling into open borewells in areas under their jurisdiction and it is their responsibility to ensure that such death-traps are capped, the Supreme Court said Thursday.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said, ‘Information on all such data (open borewell) is to be maintained in the respective district collectorate/block development office of the state.’

The court said if a borewell or well was abandoned at any stage, a certificate from the concerned department of ground water or public health or municipal corporation or private contractor had to be obtained after it was properly capped for safety so that small children did not fall into them.

The bench was seized of the matter, treating a letter written to it in February 2009 – seeking to attract Chief Justice Balakrishnan’s attention to the plight of small children falling into open borewells – as a petition.

The court on Feb 13 last year issued notices to four states, seeking details of the measures taken by them to prevent the recurrence of incidents of children falling into borewells dug in rural areas for irrigation but left open after their use.

The letter was written in the wake of a spate of such incidents in rural areas, often leading to the children’s death.

One of the children who died in a borewell in Uttar Pradesh was Sonu. In october 2008, the two-year-old fell into a 150-foot deep narrow pit in his village near Agra. All efforts to save Sonu failed. The authorities managed to bring out his body only after five days.

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