Unsafe civic work site claims a life

The pit in which the 63-year-old man died in Mugalivakkam. Photo: M. Moorthy  

The open pit was nearly 16- feet deep with broken concrete and iron rods jutting out. It has allegedly been lying open for a year, and on Monday night, claimed the life of 63-year-old Nagaiah.

The victim had come from Andhra Pradesh to meet his son Tirupathiah, who works at a private firm and lives in a house on Tulukanathamman Koil Street at Mugalivakkam.

According to Mangadu police, the accident took place around 8.30 p.m. on Monday, and Nagaiah suffered severe head injuries due to the fall and died on the spot. The pit had been left open after underground drainage work. Speaking to The Hindu at the accident spot on Sabari Nagar Main Road on AGS Colony, Mugalivakkam, grocery shop owner M. Raju said the accident was waiting to happen in the area.

“It was dark and there were no warning signs. The elderly man was walking along the road when he suddenly fell into the pit filled with sharp-edged iron rods and broken bricks. We all rushed in only to find him bleeding and unconscious,” added Mr. Raju whose shop is near the accident site.

“The pit was uncovered for sometime now. Traffic was also restricted on the stretch as the pit occupied more than half of the road making vehicular traffic and walking risky,” said an investigating officer.

The pit is one of the two that have been left open for over a year now, and numerous pleas from residents and shopkeepers here to cover them up have fallen on deaf years, residents alleged. The other pit, located a few metres away from the accident site, was left open after work on laying sewer pipes.

The pit into which the elderly man fell was hastily covered up with plywood by authorities after the accident on Tuesday. “An innocent pedestrian has lost his life. We hope at least now, the Metrowater authorities will wake up,” the shopkeeper added in anger.

Officials of Metrowater, on their part, said the contractors had been strictly instructed to follow safety standards, including installing signages and barricades, at the work sites. The Board has also ordered an inquiry into the incident.

In a statement, Metrowater said the pedestrian “had pushed the barricades in order to avoid collision with two-wheelers coming in both directions. The barricades collapsed and the pedestrian fell into the chamber and died.”

Nagaiah’s body was taken to a government hospital for post-mortem examination.

What manuals do the various agencies follow?

 Chennai Metrowater

The agency follows the manual of Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation, a wing of Ministry of Urban Development to design and implement its projects. This also includes the safety standards. 

Earlier, trenches for sewer lines were dug up to a depth of 10 m on arterial roads

Now, the depth has been brought down to 5.5-6 m

For interior roads, the depth of trenches is limited to 1.5-2 m

 The Highways department

The Indian Roads Congress which has some 100-odd standards for different kinds of roads and bridges. There is also a separate manual on road safety audit.


The agency places boards with information on work being carried out

Temporary barricades are installed

For maintenance work, safety classes being conducted for local officials and contract labourers

A weekly report of the safety classes conducted is submitted to senior officials. The report contains number of public complaints received, trees pruned, pillar boxes inspected and low-tension and high-tension electricity lines checked

According to National Crime Records Bureau data, of 114 persons who fell into pits or manholes 110 died.

Accidents in underground drainage project sites:

January, 2001: 3 workers die while cleaning STP in Nesapakkam

 March, 2002: 2 workers die as soil caves in at drainage site in Adambakkam

 August, 2011: 11-yr.-old boy drowns in tank inside Selaiyur municipal school

September, 2011: 8-yr.-old girl drowns in pit under construction in Tambaram

 September, 2012: Metrowater JE and contract worker fall into pit in Perambur

 May, 2013: 2 men choked to death in Metrowater site in Mogappair East

 September, 2013: 14-yr.-old boy drowns in open pit in Irumbuliyur

Accidents at Chennai Metro sites:

 August, 2012: Crane boom snaps and falls, killing a worker near Pachaiyappa’s College

January, 2013: Worker crushed to death and three others injured as a girder crashes at St. Thomas Mount

January, 2013: Man dies after Metro Rail crane rams into his two-wheeler on Anna Salai

May, 2013: 57-yr-old man steps on live wire that snaps after post is hit by crane involved in Alandur

January, 2014: Worker dies, one hut as crane topples and falls at Saidapet station site

June, 2015: Motorcyclist killed as rod falls from deck at St. Thomas Mount

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 11:31:23 PM |

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