Central trade unions call for probe into tunnel collapse

The CTUs alleged that the Centre sent a team very late to monitor the rescue operations.

November 23, 2023 02:39 am | Updated 02:39 am IST - New Delhi

A rescuer brings food items for the workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway, in Uttarkashi district, on Nov. 22, 2023.

A rescuer brings food items for the workers trapped inside the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway, in Uttarkashi district, on Nov. 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The platform of ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs) has expressed its anguish at the failure of the authorities to take responsibility for the Silkyara Tunnel collapse in Uttarkashi. In a joint statement here on Wednesday, the CTUs said accidents at work places expose the weaknesses of laws in regard to work place safety of workers and also bring to light the violations of existing laws. The CTUs urged the Centre to withdraw the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code and ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions about health and safety. 41 workers have been trapped in the tunnel for the last ten days and rescue operations are underway in Uttarkashi.

The CTUs alleged that the Centre sent a team very late to monitor the rescue operations. “The other workers are telling that the escape routes/tunnels, which are compulsory to meet such emergency situations in construction of long tunnels, were not even planned,” the joint statement added. “There should be a thorough probe into the laxity at any level, right from tendering to various other stages of work of the tunnel,” they demanded and asked the Centre to convene the Indian Labour Conference at the earliest to address the workers concerns on codification of laws.

The Construction Workers Federation of India (CWFI) said in a separate statement that the disastrous accident is a result of the inhuman profit hungry ‘development’ models and policies pursued by the “neo-liberal” BJP governments. “The law enforcement mechanism has failed in ensuring that the safety directions are followed. Construction sector in India is one of the biggest contributors of workplace accidents world over,” said CWFI general secretary U. P. Joseph. He said a delegation of the trade union leaders were not allowed to meet the other workers at the construction site. “The families of the workers must be given all help necessary,” Mr. Joseph added.

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