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Two killed in accident during demolition work

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, MAY 31. Two persons were killed while work was on to demolish an old building near the Rudra Vilasom School, Pallimukku, in the city this morning.

The victims were identified as Sadiq (35), hailing from Chullickal in Fort Kochi and Raman (55) hailing from Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. Sadiq had taken the contract to demolish the building and Raman was a labourer hired on daily wages. Sources said that the building was being pulled down to construct a new one.

Sadiq was crushed to death by a concrete beam of the building which came crumbling down. He died on the spot. Raman, who suffered serious injuries was taken to the nearby Medical Trust Hospital, but could not be saved. The accident occurred at 11-30 a.m.

Raman's body has been kept in the mortuary at the Ernakulam General Hospital while Sadiq's body has been returned to his relatives.

Safety norms flouted

In an accident last year, five construction workers at the Naval Quarters at Mundamveli were killed when the cable supporting the lift in which they were coming down broke. A similar incident had taken place a few years back at the construction site of an apartment complex in Elamkulam, in which five workers lost their lives. Two employees had been killed in another incident which took place on a Naval research laboratory premises in the city, about two years back. This followed a collapse of the crane which was being put to test.

Last year, a few workers were injured following a building collapse in Thopumpady. A mason was electrocuted in the first floor of a house which was under construction in Chilavanoor Road, a year back. The incident took place after he came into contact with the power-transmission line which was passing close to the house.

Though there are rules regarding different aspects of safety in the construction sector, they are seldom observed. Not many workers have helmets and other safety gear. The precautions that they have to take while dealing with dangerous machinery too are not followed.

The State president of the Kerala Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Congress, Elsabious Master, said that land owners and contractors paid scant regard to occupational health and safety of workers. "Building inspectors have to be informed before demolition works are undertaken. Specific equipment are mandatory when a building over three storeys is demolished. In case of death, only kin of workers who have registered themselves with the Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Welfare Board will get the compensation of Rs. 1 lakh. Thus, the Tamil labourer who died will not get the compensation amount," he said.

He said that he had taken up relevant issues with the RDO soon after the Mundamveli mishap. No steps were taken. Later, the authorities said that officials of the Electrical Inspectorate would hold an inquiry into the accident. It was yet unclear how officials who were connected with electrification would be able to conduct an inquiry into such accidents, Mr. Elsabious said.

Labour being a State subject, the State Government should ensure that there was no violation of rules. The Building and Construction Workers' Welfare Act, 1996 and Chapters 2 to 26 of the Central Act, which have 47 clauses, speak of measures which have to be taken to ensure the health and safety of workers. Clause 4 on safety and health speaks of the responsibility of engineers to ensure the safety of workers. Chapter 12 speaks of safety measures which have to be taken while a building is being demolished. But Governments had not been doing their duty in enforcing the rules. Steps should be taken to make the contractor and owner of the site pay compensation to the kin of victims, he said.

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