Chennai: It’s a little over 80 hours since the two-year-old Sujith Wilson had gone into an abandoned borewell in his father’s farm and still, there is not a flicker of hope emerging out of the drilling of hard rocks by giant machines brought from far into the sorrow-soaked Nadukattupatti village in Tiruchirapalli district.
As the midnight crawled in to remind all those exhausted men and women at the site that Monday has inched past and nothing came beyond vague words and promises of hope by various ‘leaders’ before TV cameras, the sour question remained in the troubled minds of those really holding the hopeless reins as to how the little kid would now be, squeezed into a space of just about four-inches with over two inches of mud over his head, for several hours.
State Health Minister Dr C. Vijaya Baskar has been in charge of the rescue operation, arriving at the site within a few hours of the tragedy Friday evening. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was there for some time, going around and getting briefed. A few more ministers have been there too, in and out. Principal Secretary (Revenue) Dr J Radhakrishnan, an expert in disaster handling, is also there along with District Collector S Sivarasu, SP Zia Ul Haq, and other senior officials.
In Chennai, the government reiterated through a tweet its resolve, expressed by Deputy CM Panneerselvam, to close down all the illegal borewells. The tweet promptly got heavy trolling, many twitteratti asking why the government has been indifferent to this issue until now, and why should a kid’s tragedy wake up the regime.
Multiple ‘expert’ teams, some known and many unknown, have been working on the rescue; quite a number offering free advice to the exasperated officials at the site. Teams from the NDRF, SDRF and private enterprises have been working round-the-clock even as tarpaulin sheets have been replaced with sheets to weather the big rains forecast.
Ten robust men have been selected from the state fire service department and medically examined for going down a giant ladder, lowered into a hole of about 55 feet drilled by the ONGC rig, which supposedly broke a few blades in the process of breaking down the hard rock. One of the men went down at about 9.15 pm and remained down for a little over 15 minutes to check on the deep-inner surface that was expected to be very warm and dehydrating. He was assisted by focus lights held above, while it was not clear whether he was provided with a oxygen tube to carry along.
“The plan is to hand-dig a tunnel from this main hole dug to a depth of about 90 feet, to be taken to the boy for rescue. This smaller tunnel will be broad enough to take a rescue worker crawling through to reach the kid”, said an official at the site, adding that borewell machines have been called to make five parallel holes to loosen the soil close to the tunnel being created.
Prayers are said in several places of worship across the country and even beyond, besides the Social Media. There is still hope, at least here, that Sujith Wilson will return home to his grieving mother at least when the sun comes out Tuesday.