The growth of the infrastructure and housing sectors correlate with the number of deaths at construction sites. With urbanisation at full gallop, the number of such accidents has shot up in Chennai, writes Aloysius Xavier Lopez

Less than a fortnight ago, two labourers fell to their death at a construction site on Peters Road, bringing to the fore an issue that is often conveniently shoved under the carpet. The number of construction and infrastructure projects has shot up in Chennai and its suburbs with the result that the city now accounts for almost 50 per cent of such deaths in Tamil Nadu. In 2012, Chennai recorded 36 of the 75 such deaths in the State. In 2011, the city accounted for around 41 percent of the 62 accidents at construction sites across Tamil Nadu. These figures contrast sharply with that for 2010, when Chennai and its suburbs witnessed only 11 such accidents.

The data being compiled by the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health for this year touched 66 in August, for the entire State. And there is a strong indication that Chennai will exceed last year’s numbers if safety measures are not quickly undertaken at the construction sites.

Following the accident involving the death of two labourers at a construction site on Peters Road on October 10, the directorate is planning to form special teams to enforce safety norms at construction sites, said K. Ayyanu, Director of Industrial Safety and Health.

According to the Directorate, the contractor at the site on Peters Road had failed to provide safety mechanism for the labourers.

“It is purely a safety violation. There was insufficient netting. We have issued show cause notice to Landmark Construction and the contractor JCC. The builder has engaged JCC as contractor. So they have to ensure the safety of the labourer. But Landmark has also received registration certificate under the Building and Other Construction Workers Act from us. We have informed the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, who will initiate action towards compensation for the labourers,” S. Ananth, Joint Director of Industrial Safety and Health.

Meanwhile, Sundaramurthy, a representative of Landmark Construction, has said, “The contractor has to provide compensation for the affected families.”

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