Though the accident at Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) construction site on C.M.H. Road on Friday did not result in any casualty, it yet again highlighted that safety norms are anything but up to the mark in the ever-growing construction industry in Bangalore. This is the eighth recorded accident at a Metro site alone since December 15, 2008.
What is alarming is that the manpower of the Labour Department to inspect safety standards at construction sites as stipulated in the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, is abysmally low.
There are only six labour officers to monitor safety standards in the entire city. What is more, none of them are technically qualified to testify for the safety of any construction site or determine the reasons for failure of safety equipment when an accident occurs because they are not engineers.
Meanwhile, a proposal sent by the department seeking that engineers from the Department of Factories and Boilers be notified to monitor safety standards at construction sites is still pending with the Government. According to Labour Commissioner M.S. Ravishankar, this move will augment the manpower and also ensure that inspections are done by technically qualified people.
Earlier, following an accident in another Metro site which claimed a labourers life, the Karnataka Human Rights Commission had suggested to the Government that a standing technical committee be set up to undertake quick investigation into accidents at construction sites. This too is yet to be considered.
An estimated eight lakh construction workers are employed in Bangalore alone, while the total number of workers throughout the State is estimated to be over 13 lakh. Only 75,000 among them are registered with the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, which entitles them to a clutch of health and compensation benefits.
A recent seminar by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority had focused on issues related to construction workers and recommended that registration with the board be made mandatory for every construction worker and the responsibility fixed on builders.
Previous accidents at Metro sites:
1. December 15, 2008, at CMH Road
2. January 2, 2009, on Old Madras Road
3. January 11, 2009, on MG Road
4. January 29, 2009, at Rajajinagar
5. On May 23, 2009, at Rajajinagar
6. July 8, 2009, near Lalbagh West Gate
7. August 3, August, on CMH Road