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As many as nine workers died in an accident Monday evening at the construction site for an underground tunnel linking Neera and Bhima rivers in Indapur taluka of Pune district. An elevator box carrying the workers and equipment collapsed in the shaft after its cable snapped, police said.
Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said an inquiry had been ordered to find out what caused the incident. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced a financial aid of Rs 2 lakh each for the bereaved families.
The Bhigwan police from Pune rural jurisdiction said the incident took place at Akole village, over 100 km from Pune city, around 6 pm. Inspector Neelkanth Rathod, in-charge of the Bhigwan police station, said, “As per our primary information, the elevator car carrying workers and tools collapsed into the shaft. It fell at least 100 feet after the cable snapped. On receiving information, our team rushed to the spot and other agencies were also informed accordingly. Nine labourers are dead, according to primary information.”
Station duty officer at Bhigwan police station said all nine deceased were migrant labourers. The bodies were taken out by other workers at the site with the help of local villagers.
The nine have been identified as Mukeshkumar Maurya (26), Sabinga Samanand Naidu (38), Avinash Reddi, Surendra Bachchan Yadav (25), Chhotu Gole (19), Balram Suan, Sushant Pandhi, Mukesh Kumar and Rahul Sugreev Narute.
A police officer said, “There will be a thorough probe into the sequence of events leading to the accident, and negligence on the part of the responsible agencies. An offence will be subsequently registered.”
Additional Superintendent of Police (Pune Rural) Tejaswini Satpute said, “The number of deceased may go up as the search operation is going on. There will be a probe into whether there was negligence on part of any individual or agency involved in the work.”
Mahajan said, “The chief minister has been briefed about the unfortunate incident. He has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the family members of the deceased workers.”
The project aims to link rivers from water-rich areas to those in the chronically dry regions such as a few talukas in Osmanabad and Beed districts in Marathwada region. In the first phase, work for which is currently on in Indapur taluka, a 24-km-long tunnel is being constructed that will link the Neera river with the Ujani Watershed Project on Bhima river. The plan is to lift the water further to dry areas such as Bhoom and Paranda in Osamanabad and Ashti in Beed district. Nearly 300 workers are employed and they are working in three shifts. The work was supposed to start in 2012 but got delayed due to lack of funds and finally started last year.