Safety measures stepped up; contractors hold meetings to reassure workers
A day after a 22-year-old worker was crushed to death when a launching girder collapsed at the construction site of the Metro Rail project in St. Thomas Mount, work on removing the massive structure began.
While the preliminary work — attaching cables, installing power lamps — began in the day, the task of removing the launching girder, block by block, commenced at 8 p.m., when the night shift began, said workers.
Meanwhile, the four persons who were arrested on Thursday remain in police custody. Metro Rail officials said that their internal probe into the accident would depend on the statements of those arrested. However, St. Thomas Mount police said they had not been contacted by CMRL for the purposes of an investigation.
No further arrests were made. Police said the injured workers are out of danger.
Workers said contractors had stepped up safety and a series of interactions had been organised to reassure them. T. Sintu of Ranchi, Chhattisgarh, who has worked on various construction projects in Chennai including the airport modernisation, said workers had been concerned but were assured by senior staff that highest levels of safety would be ensured with immediate effect.
Mohammed Shahid of Rohtas District, Bihar, who had begun working at the St. Thomas Mount site on Thursday, after having earlier worked at other sites, said the workers were a little anxious immediately after the accident, but were relieved on Friday morning following the meetings.
Workers also said that the accident could have been avoided if the huge cement concrete structure — the ‘counter-weight’ — that is normally placed at the front, middle and rear portions of the launching girder to keep it firmly balanced, was in place. Engineers and other administrative staff from the firms engaged in the project refused to speak to the media .
Residents and traders on M.K.N. Road noted that the girder had fallen dead straight between the two pillars. Had it collapsed on Railway Station Road, it would have caused enormous damage to property, said C. Swaminathan, a shop-keeper.