At least six construction workers, including two women, were killed and four more injured when the compound wall of the Sinhgad group of institutes in Ambegaon, Pune, collapsed on the adjoining labourers’ tin hutments in the early hours of Tuesday as relentless showers continued to batter the city.
According to reports, the labourers hailed from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. They were identified as Jethilal Patel (50), Radhelal Patel (25), his wife Mamta Patel (22), Pardeshini Patel (45), Jeetu Rawate (24) and Prahlad Rawate (30).
The incident is an eerie replay of the Kondhwa wall collapse incident that occurred early Saturday last week, killing 15 labourers and their kin, including four children and two women.
“The accident occurred sometime between the midnight on Monday and the early hours of Tuesday. A number of trees were clumped around the section of the compound wall of the institute, estimated at a height of 8-9 feet. The downpour caused the trees and the part of the wall to crash on the labourers’ tin sheds. The main issue here is the hazardous position of the labourers’ quarters. It appears that this threat [of a wall collapse] was not assessed by the builders when they set up camps for workers near the compound wall,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who rushed to the spot early morning.
Speaking to The Hindu , he said that around 30 labourers were living in the hutments and working on a residential block being developed by a city-based builder.
Extremely unfortunate: Collector
Mr. Ram said the incident was “extremely unfortunate”, especially as it happened close on the heels of the Kondhwa tragedy.
“Immediately after the Kondhwa incident, Pune civic officials had completed a survey of 297 construction sites and marked out at least six labourer camps as potentially dangerous areas prone to rain-related accidents. But as the Ambegaon area was included in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits only recently, this site escaped scrutiny,” he said, adding that an enquiry would be made to check whether the labourers working on the site were registered or not.
PMC authorities said they would also verify the legality of the ongoing construction and take action against the developer if necessary.
Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rushed to the spot on receiving a call about several persons being trapped in the debris after the wall caved in a little after 1 a.m.
According to sources, it was a group of students in the Sinhgad institute hostel who first alerted rescue personnel, leading to the rescue of four workers. The injured are undergoing treatment at the Sassoon General Hospital, said officials.
Jayant Shinde of the Bandhkaam Kamgar Sena, a city-based outfit working for the betterment of labourers, accused the builder of sheer negligence in constructing quarters for his labourers at such a perilous spot.
“The workers were constructing a six-storey apartment complex by one Dangat Developers. The builder and the engineers should at least have ensured the workers were housed at a less dangerous spot than the one right next to the Sinhagad campus compound wall. How many more labourers are thus to die because of such criminal negligence” asked Mr. Shinde, speaking to The Hindu .