Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation officials Monday said the contractor tasked to lay the sewer lines in the Dapodi area had not taken safety measures, even as family members of the labourer, whose body was extricated from the 20-foot-deep trench Monday morning, claimed the 22-year-old was “forced to embrace death”.
On Monday, PCMC Joint City Engineer Makrand Nikam said when a trench digging work is undertaken, rules mandate that utmost precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of workers.
“The contractor did not take any safety precautions. The entire trench should have been barricaded and a safety system put in place. In this case, we have found that no safety precautions were taken,” he told The Indian Express.
Nikam said police filed an FIR against the contractor after the civic administration presented details about the case. He added that PCMC will review the entire system of laying sewer lines.
In a press statement, the civic body’s standing committee said the contractor, Patil Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ltd, had undertaken the work on Sunday, which was against the civic rules.
“As per the terms and conditions of the tender, the contractor was not supposed to undertake the work on Sundays. Yet, he asked the labourers to work on Sunday. While undertaking the worker, the contractor had not taken any precaution. The contractor had not taken any permission to carry out the work on Sunday as well,” the civic panel said. The press release was been issued on behalf of the standing committee chairman, mayor and deputy mayor.
The committee said fireman Vishal Jadhav’s family will be given Rs 20 lakh insurance amount. “Also, we will try to provide job to the widow of the deceased in the civic services on compassionate grounds,” the civic panel said. The family of the labourer will get Rs 2 lakh insurance amount, it said.
Accusing the PCMC of trying to “shrug off its responsibility”, Nana Kate, opposition leader in the civic body, said, “If PCMC says the contractor is responsible, it means the administration is trying to absolve itself of all the responsibility. PCMC officials cannot give free hand to contractors. They are supposed to keep a close watch on the work of the contractors and their workers. But, in this case, the PCMC officials did not do their job properly. As a result, the contractor was negligent.”
Kate said not only the contractor but PCMC officials, too, were responsible for the two deaths. “We urge the municipal commissioner to take action against negligent officials as well. They cannot be allowed to go scot-free,” he said.
On Monday evening, police booked the owner of Patil Construction of Infrastructure, its two sub-contractors, a supervisor and officials of PCMC in the case, while Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said a two-member committee has been appointed to investigate the incident.
Meanwhile, in Dapodi area, where labourer Nagesh Jamadar resided in a shanty, shocked and agitated family members said they lost their son as “he was virtually pushed to death”. Jamadar’s sister Sangeeta said, “My brother was a painter. Sunday was his off day. He was at home. Suddenly, three people turned up and told him that they will give him Rs 500 if he does the digging work for the trench. My brother was not ready to go. But they forcibly took him away.” His cousin Nirmala said Jamadar was made to dig the trench the entire day and not allowed to have lunch.
An inconsolable Chinamma, the mother of the 22-year-old, said a boy had come running to their house to say their son was stuck in the trench. “By the time we went to the spot, everyone had run away. They were so cruel,” she said.
Claiming that this is not the first incident of its kind in Pimpri-Chinchwad, civic activist Shridhar Chalkha said, “In last 15 years there were several such incidents where workers have lost their lives while working in drainage chambers or trenches. Yet, it is shocking to find that the civic administration has no effective system in place to avoid such deaths,” he said.