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Balochistan’s borewells have become death traps for children

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 20, 2019 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Posted: Aug 20, 2019 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Balochistan’s borewells have become death traps for children

It has been one month since Bayzeed lost his son and he still isn’t able to talk about the harrowing tale without tearing up.

On July 18, Bayzeed went with his 13-year-old son to take out a water pump from a borewell in the town of Nal in Balochistan’s Khuzdar.

While Bayzeed was taking out the pump, his son slipped and fell into the narrow borewell. People in the area were unable to rescue the boy because of the lack of equipment.

“The child was alive for almost an hour as we could hear his screams,” the deceased’s maternal uncle, Muhammad Shareef, told SAMAA TV. “The child cried for help, but we were powerless,” he said. “After a few hours, the screams stopped.”

The family members, trying to rescue the boy, decided to put a mobile phone on a pole and insert it inside the well. They recorded a video with the phone’s camera of the well from the inside. What they saw next left them horrified.

“When we saw the video, our eyes welled up with tears because we saw him lying there lifeless,” Shareef said.

The child’s father, Bayzeed, said the first thought that came to his mind was how will he able to retrieve his son’s body.

The family approached district authorities for assistance, but even they didn’t have the machinery to carry out the operation. The deceased’s family then contacted tribal leaders and influential politicians in Nal, but they declined to help.

It is very difficult to rescue the child from the narrow borewell, was their reply. They advised the family members to build a grave on top of the borewell. Bayzeed, however, was not willing to accept this.

Bayzeed and Shareef appealed to their neighbours for help. They collected Rs5,000 from every house in their area and bought a dumper and advanced machinery to start the operation.

After seven days’ constant hard work, the teenager’s body was retrieved. His body was buried and his funeral prayers held soon after.

The operation cost Rs1.2 million. The district authorities donated Rs30,000, but the teen’s family didn’t take the money from them.

Khuzdar is beneath water-level, which is why its tube wells and borewells have dried up, Deputy Commissioner Major (retd) Ilyas said.

Instead of installing safety casing or filling them up with sand, people leave them open, he said. “This is why such incidents occur,” he added.

Ilyas said the district authorities have taken some measures to prevent such accidents. They have started covering the tube wells and are also advising others to do the same.

This is not the first case where an innocent lost his life by falling in an open borewell. Similar incidents have taken place in Khuzdar, Mustang, District Abdullah among other areas in the province.

On October 6, 2015, a child fell in a tube well while playing in District Abdullah. People in the area and authorities tried to rescue the boy but they were unsuccessful. They did not have the machinery to carry out the operation. The child’s parents lost all hopes after a month and decided to build a grave on top of the borewell.

On December 1, 2017, an eight-year-old girl fell in a 300-ft deep borewell in Khuzdar. That child, too, could not be rescued. After 13 days of hard work, people in the area and authorities were able to retrieve her body.

A three-year-old fell in a borewell in Mustang in March 2018. Levies and district authorities tried to save her but were not successful. Lack of machinery and skilled labour made the operation a failure. The child’s body was never retrieved.

“Rescue 1122 does not have the machinery or equipment to rescue people from extremely narrow and deep borewells,” said PDMA Chairperson Imran Zarkoon.

Rescue 1122 was established a few years ago. The government hired 28 rescue officers on contract basis and they were even sent to Lahore for a six-month training course. They were fired from the jobs, however, after their contracts expired.

Zarkoon stressed that the government needs modern machinery and skilled labour to prevent such misadventures in the future.

Experts say the water levels in Balochistan have decreased at a serious rate because of which thousands of tube wells and borewells have dried up. “The holes should be covered so that people cannot fall in them,” Zarkoon agreed.

People in Balochistan requested the government to fill the dried wells and install safety casing so that innocent lives can be saved.

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borewells, borewell, tube well, Balochistan, Khuzdar, Mustang, child death, death trap, PDMA
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