Two killed in roof collapse at under-construction car park

The under-construction multi-level parking facility on the APMC premises in Yeshwantpur that partially collapsed on Friday, killing two workers.

The under-construction multi-level parking facility on the APMC premises in Yeshwantpur that partially collapsed on Friday, killing two workers.   | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Two labourers were killed and 12 others injured after the roof of the third floor collapsed at an under-construction multi-level car parking facility on the APMC premises in Yeshwantpur on Friday.

Workers were pouring concrete on the roof when the scaffolding gave way around 4.30 a.m. According to eyewitness accounts, the workers fell over 30 feet, with concrete and debris in their wake. Five labourers were trapped while nine escaped with minor injuries.

Officials with the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES) rescued all five, but Rahul Goswami, 19, and Rakesh, 21, who were pulled out in a critical stage, died on the way to the hospital. While Mr. Goswami was from West Bengal, Mr. Rakesh was from Bihar. The two were working for a private contractor who had bagged the ₹22-crore project overseen by APMC Yeshwantpur.

The twelve others, who are from West Bengal, Bihar and Yadgir, have been admitted to a nearby hospital. Omprakash, 21, from Bihar, sustained major injuries, but the police said he was out of danger.

‘We could hear the screams’

According to eyewitnesses, more than 50 workers were in the building at the time of the incident. Palani, who has been working in the APMC for over 34 years, was sleeping on the footpath by a garlic trading store (which is opposite the under-construction building) when he was woken up by a loud crashing sound. “It took me some time to figure out what had happened. There was chaos and dust all around. At least 10 concrete pouring trucks were parked on the street. It was then we heard screams from underneath the scaffolding, but we could not dig them [the workers] out,” he said.

Fifteen minutes later, a heavy earth machine parked nearby was called in to help. It took an hour for emergency service personnel and others to clear the area. Mr. Palani said the construction crew had been working two shifts through day and night for nearly a year on the parking lot.

K. Gopalaiah, MLA for Mahalakshmi Layout, blamed the local site engineer and APMC yard officials for negligence and dereliction. “It is clear that they built the scaffolding on loose soil without taking precautions. The pillars were not centred properly. This is a clear case of dereliction and action must be taken,” he said, while promising the deceased and the injured aid from the State government once the model code of conduct is lifted.

Cases booked

The RMC Yard police have filed cases under Section 304a (causing death due to negligence), 337 and 338 (endangering lives) of the Indian Penal Code. “It was told to us that there were lapses in the construction. But we will have to investigate further to find out who is responsible for the lapses,” said N. Shashi Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North Division).

Later in the day, the police arrested Chandranna, the contractor, and Umashankar, the site engineer.

Traders call it a monument of vanity

In the aftermath of the tragedy, a large number of APMC traders placed the blame entirely on officials of the Yeshwantpur APMC for conceiving a building that “no one in the area wanted”.

The ₹22-crore project envisioned car parking for over 800 cars and bikes, and was coming up in an area that formerly housed a farmers’ auction platform. The platform was shifted to a new building nearby while the plot was to house a three-storeyed car parking facility.

However, V. Manjunath, a coconut trader, said the car park was unnecessary as the usage of cars by traders and others was low. “The area is full of trucks, and parking for cars was never a problem. There was no demand from traders either. In the end, this massive structure won’t even house 50 cars daily,” he said.

Incidentally, the area is cordoned off through gates to regulate movement of traffic during working hours while trucks lined the road for loading and unloading of goods.

Other traders accused APMC officials of sanctioning a “vanity project” through which commissions and kickbacks could be made.

Yeshwantpura APMC Yard Okkootta president Ramesh Chandra Lahoti said the project was entirely decided by the State government. “We had demanded that a cold storage area or a warehouse be set up for stocking farm produce. But there is a mafia within the committee that prefers big-ticket projects that no one uses,” he said.

APMC officials were not available for comment.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 10:55:07 PM |

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