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Poor Infrastructure, Laidback Attitude Behind Madhya Pradesh Well Tragedy

Rescue operations have been on for over 24 hours since Thursday at the Ganjbasoda well in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

Rescue operations have been on for over 24 hours since Thursday at the Ganjbasoda well in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

Locals accused thevillage sarpanch and janpad panahayat of indifference in repairing the well that serves the entire population of the village.

The Vidisha well accident, in which five people have lost their lives, and eight others are still trapped, has brought to fore several aspects of slackness and indifference of the local public representatives.

The rescue operation is still underway, 24 hours since the incident took place.

Five bodies have been fished out while eight others are missing, an officer said on Friday. In total, 19 people were injured in the mishap and are recuperating in different hospitals.

Meanwhile, locals of Lal Pathar village in Ganjbasoda in Vidisha district where the fateful incident took place, have alleged gross slackness of the administration and local public representatives.

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One of the injured told News18 that close to 50 locals had gathered close to the well after the 13-year-old Ravi Ahirwar fell inside on Thursday, at around 6 pm. After three locals went inside the well to save the boy, a small crowd gathered in the next half an hour. All of them fell inside as the dilapidated RCC structure of the well could not sustain the people.

A woman who lives nearby the accident site said that the well had caved in twice in the past and when it happened the second time in the month of June, the local sarpanch was apprised of the matter, but no action was taken.

A Congress leader from Ganjbasoda said that he had called the local SHO after the accident but he did not pick call and locals also kept dialling Dial 100 number of the police but the number was persistently busy. In all the rescue was late by around three hours.

Local native Mohan Ahirwar claimed that the entire population of 7,000-odd people of the village depend on the well for potable water. The sarpanch and janpad panchayat were requested for repairs around 20 days ago but nothing came out of it.

Locals also claimed that SDRF and NDRF teams had reached the site by 9.30 pm and started emptying the well. A tractor carrying five home guard jawans also had fallen into the well; three escaped unhurt while two others sustained injuries.

They also alleged that high powered water pumps took almost 17 hours to reach the accident site from Bhopal. These pumps were used to empty the well when locally available pumps weren’t available for the task. After several hours of the rescue operation, the local officers realised that resources were insufficient and contacted Bhopal municipal corporation which sent six employees, five pumps and other equipment.

Drone cameras were installed on the site so that senior officers and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan could monitor the rescue live. Chouhan told the media that the soil is fragile, which is why a tractor carrying rescuers had fallen into the well. “We are carrying on rescue cautiously so that those trapped in the debris aren’t harmed," he added.

Chouhan had ordered a high-level probe into the incident. He however claimed that the SDRF team had reached the site immediately.

The Home Minister, commenting on the rescue operation, said that five bodies were recovered and eight others were missing. Mishra claimed that villagers had informed the administration late and tried to rescue the fallen persons themselves for a while. He shielded CM Chouhan, who did not visit the site despite being in Vidisha, saying his visit could have diverted the attention of the administration.

PCC chief Kamal Nath who formed a three-member enquiry committee into the mishap alleged that administrative officers and public representatives reached at accident late by around four hours which is why the mishap took place. A timely action could have saved the locals, he claimed.

The locals were forced to fetch water from dilapidated well as it was the only source of water in the village, said Nath who questioned why CM Chouhan did not visit the site despite being so close.

The rescue operation was on till reports last came in.

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first published:July 16, 2021, 20:08 IST