Buried alive

Focus of govt should be on preventing such incidents in the first place, making sure NGOs follow guidelines.

Editorial July 19, 2014

Three people were buried alive while digging a well in a remote village in Tharparkar and their bodies have yet to be found, even after four days. Once again, the lack of value the government, or anyone in power for that matter, gives to human lives becomes apparent as proper rescue teams have not been sent to the area nor have any machinery been sent.

A 35-year-old labourer, his son and nephew — both of whom were teenagers — were digging up the well when the incident took place. According to news reports, an NGO had hired these labourers to dig up the well without providing adequate safety gear. The group was working from inside the well when the concrete well rings ruptured and caved in, along with the sand. If the organisation had provided them safety gear, such as a harness or a proper mounting stand, then perhaps this incident would not have claimed their lives and they could have survived.

The villagers also claimed that the organisation had provided sub-standard material that led to the accident. If these claims are true, the burden of responsibility falls once again on the NGO behind this project. It should be held accountable and given punishment so that others in the area learn to value human life. The focus of the government should be on preventing such incidents in the first place by making sure the NGOs working in the area follow international and local guidelines, and are held accountable if their actions claim innocent lives. The labour class is regularly seen to be prone to accidents as their lives are taken for granted by their employers and the government.

What makes matters worse is the poor rescue services provided after the incident. If rescue efforts have been hampered by the presence of sand dunes, the government should have sent heavy excavators and retrieved the bodies to offer the family some form of closure. Instead, the local MPA paid a useless visit to the site, gave the usual condolence speech and promised jobs to the victims’ families — a claim that remains largely unfulfilled in most cases.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.