Asma Banu,who lives across the street from the Eastern Freeway construction site at Shanti Nagar,Wadala,was cooking at home when she heard a loud bang followed by shouts for help.
I rushed out. The first thing I saw was the upper half of a mans body jutting out of the debris. Neither was the site barricaded nor did the workers,who were working at a height,had any kind of safety gear, Banu said.
Residents alleged the construction site had no safety measures in place. The workers dont wear safety gear other than flimsy plastic helmets; there are no barricades to keep people and cars away when the construction is on even during the day and cars are haphazardly parked underneath.
A car,a taxi and an oil tanker were crushed in the accident on Thursday as they were parked right below the spot where a 1,100-tonne launching girder had just placed thirteen 80-tonne segments between two piers of the elevated structure. MMRDA officials said the workers were in the midst of changing shifts. The second shift was to glue the segments together.
Although the road was shut for traffic,the site was not barricaded even as the operations to lift the launching girder,demolish segments and clear the debris started on Friday morning. Several vehicles,including an ambulance and a police van,were still parked under the partially-constructed road feet away from the restoration work.
There have been several times when stones and gravel have fallen down from the construction site. Thankfully none of us have been injured, said Irshad Ali,another resident of Shanti Nagar,adding that he has seen labourers sleeping and eating on the elevated structure instead of going to the labour camp.
Ashwini Bhide,additional metropolitan commissioner,MMRDA,said the authority had initiated the process of constructing medians on the road below the under-construction elevated road to prevent parking of vehicles.
It is difficult for the people on the site to enforce the no parking rule. People dont listen. We dont barricade sites because it affects traffic flow. In the case of safety gear,we try to enforce its use but workers tend to avoid it thinking it is too cumbersome, she said. As soon as the debris is cleared,the MMRDA would check all equipment,including the launching girders,Bhide added.
Meanwhile,a spokesperson for Simplex Infrastructure said the contractor had launched an investigation into the accident and prima facie the cause seems to be mechanical failure of equipment engaged for construction.
A team of experts has been deputed to investigate the details and necessary action will be taken on the basis of their report. Simplex Infrastructure has always adhered to the highest quality of construction and has never compromised with safety and integrity at any of its projects, the spokesperson said.
The Eastern Freeway project is divided into three parts a 9.3-km corridor from P DMello Road to the beginning of Anik-Panjarpol Link Road,a five-km corridor from Anik to the beginning of Panjarpol-Ghatkopar Link Road and the 2.5-km Panjarpol-Ghatkopar corridor (Rs 168 crore). The 16.8-km freeway,was scheduled to be completed by December but is likely to be delayed owing to the accident.