DMK chief MK Stalin, who is the leader of opposition in Tamil Nadu assembly, today attacked the state government over the death of two-year-old who fell into an abandoned borewell in Tiruchirappalli district on Friday and was found dead this morning. Amid attacks, Chief Minister K Palaniswami has said "several efforts" were made to save the child.
"The lethargic attitude of the government is also a reason (for the child''s death)," Stalin told reporters after visiting the cemetery where two-year-old Sujith Wilson was buried.
The 66-year-old leader also met Sujith's parents and said that there was a feeling "if some ministers and officials showed the same keenness in the rescue efforts like they did to give interviews to TV channels," over the issue.
"Why were not the NDRF and the army called in soon after the incident?" he asked. "My intention is to not to criticise the government but we don't want another child to face Sujith's fate," he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Sujith fell into the borewell on Friday around 5:45 pm while playing on the family's farm. Initially, he was trapped at a depth of 26 feet but slipped to 88 feet during attempts to pull him up by tying ropes around his hands.
The two-year-old "could have been saved at 36 feet itself," Stalin said today, attacking the government over rescue efforts.
The rescue was called off this morning after a stench emanated from the old borewell, suggesting the child had died. Sujith's dismembered body was taken straight to the cemetery for a funeral after doctors at the Manaparai Government Hospital conducted an autopsy. Three ministers offered floral tributes to the child outside the hospital.
Several efforts were made to save the child, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said this afternoon amid opposition attacks. "Many difficulties were faced when a separate borewell (shaft) was being dug near the one (where Wilson was trapped) due to the presence of hard rocks. Overcoming all of them, rescue efforts were carried out day and night," he said in a statement.
"Rules regarding sinking of borewells have already been framed and published in a gazette. I have directed district collectors to ascertain if the rules are duly followed," he said.
Although at least 10 lives have been lost in similar tragedies in as many years in Tamil Nadu alone, experts point out there is no standard operating procedure to handle such crises. These are still tackled by local authorities in a haphazard way, they say.