CMRL to conduct safety audit across 32 stations

Construction work on the Metro Rail project in the city came to a standstill on Thursday, following the accident at the Pachaiyappa’s College site that killed a worker and left six labourers injured a day earlier. Work will resume after the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) completes a safety audit across its 32 stations.

“Work has been suspended to put in tighter controls in place. We will have all the equipment re-certified,” K. Rajaraman, managing director, CMRL, told The Hindu. The audit is expected to take two to three days and construction work will resume soon after. This is the first time that work on the Metro line spanning over 45 km comes to a complete halt ever since the project was launched in 2009.

While the condition of the six injured workers is said to be stable, Mr. Rajaram said the CMRL suggested that they be moved to a private hospital for advanced treatment, if required.

Following the CMRL’s decision to suspend work, sites where stations are coming up were nearly empty with only machines stationed on the dug-up premises. “Aaj chhutii hein [It’s a holiday today],” said a lone worker seen outside the Pachaiyappa College site on Thursday morning. Barring police personnel and some officials, no one came to the site, he said.

According to CMRL officials, a probe into the cause of the accident has begun. A study is on at three levels – one by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and China-based Shanghai Urban Construction Group (SUCG), the contractors building the Pachaiyappa’s College station; another by the General Consultant and the third, by the CMRL itself.

According to senior officials, safety experts were studying the crane whose boom failed, leading to the accident. They also spoke to employees who were present at the site.

“We expect the report to be ready in the next couple of days. Until then, we will not be in a position to comment on the cause,” Mr. Rajaram said.

Observing that though safety was the contractor’s responsibility, he said the CMRL would on its part to ensure there was no lapse in future.

“All our agreements with the contractors are according to international codes – be it safety at the construction site or workers’ safety. The norms are standard across all sites, irrespective of the contractor,” he said. The CMRL would also ensure that the insurance sum reached the victims, officials said.

Meanwhile, city police on Thursday arrested two persons in connection with the accident. They were released in the evening.