news Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30

Two things should make all Indians sit up and worry. It is happening with alarming regularity and no one seems to be doing anything about it. Almost every week there are reports of children falling in borewells, in some part of the country.

And then there are people who have developed what is called a borewell robot.

Manje Gowda from Mandya, a ‘robotic expert’ was called by the government to rescue a six-year-old child has been trapped since mid-morning, August 3rd 2014 in Bagalkot, Karnataka. 

Manje Gowda’s robot with camera was lowered into the borewell. But attempts hit a block as it faced a rock at a depth of about 140 feet, the robot was too wide for the hole.

The contraption just dumped some more mud into the bore well. The Bagalkot DC Meghannavar said, “We were told that the team from Mandya has tried such operations before. After ropes failed in retreiving the child, we used the robot. But more mud has fallen on the child, so we are reverting to the drilling method.”

Manje Gowda is a farmer from Mandya who designed the robot. At the time of writing, it is not clear if the child is safe, but efforts to save him re-commenced after being halted for a few hours yesterday. Many hours were used trying to retrieve the child using the robot.

Enquiries by The News Minute (TNM) show that the bore-well robot is a misnomer as it is neither accompanied by science nor by success. Since the time it has been in operation, it has saved one child, but in all the other cases it has proved to be ineffective. In fact Manje Gowda’s robot has never been on a ‘field operation’ before. 

The bore well robot is a new entrant to rescue and relief operations. Another one developed by M Manikandan, a 43-year college professor from Madurai whose self-confessed prayer every morning is to go through the day without rushing to a rescue sight was used at several rescue efforts.

Manikandan was in June this year called to Bijapur, where a child had fallen into a borewell. But, the robot could not rescue the child. Manikandan however says that out of five times the robot was used, they rescued a child once. 

In fact a small search of borewell robots, and many such articles show up, detailing people and their innovations.

There are no standard operating procedures (SOP) in place despite numerous guidelines which are not worth the paper they are written on. People out of necessity and desperation may be designing and inventing robots. But how have government authorities tested these machines and their effectiveness?

If the states want to use ‘robots’, then why can’t money be invested in research or monetary assistance provided to those who are doing independent research? 

But this begs another point – why are so many bore-wells in India open? Is it common to leave this death-holes in places where people, especially play? What purpose does an open bore-well serve? 

People falling into bore-wells are preventable accidents, they occur because of gross negligence on the part of authorities whose job it is to ensure the safety and security of public utilities and warn people about any eventuality.

The bore-well robot is not an answer to the problem. In fact, it is not even the question. Writing about how the “scientist” and his team rushed to the spot, spent 36 hours only to retrieve lifeless bodies of children is to give hope when none existed in the first place.

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