BERHAMPUR: At least25 women members of a self help group (SHG) were injured, three seriously, when floor of panchayat office meeting room in Pitala panchayat under Sheragada block caved in. The incident took place when 35 women were sitting on the floor of the meeting hall.
The women belonging to various SHGs had congregated at the panchayat office to attend an awareness meet on sanitation under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). The panchayat office was inaugurated three years back by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
While the meeting was going on, the floor of meeting hall caved in. With the sudden sinking of the floor, covered by vitrified tiles, a hole was created. Most of the women fell into the hole, which was four feet deep and three to five feet wide, and furniture fell on them. Hearing their screams, locals rescued the women and admitted them to Pitala health centre. However, in the absence of doctors there, the women were shifted to Hinjili hospital. Later, three of the critically injured women were rushed to the MKCG Medical College and Hospital here.
Protesting absence of doctors, locals locked the Pitala health centre for several hours. Condition of all the women is stable now, said doctors.
Meanwhile, local BJP and Congress leaders alleged that poor standard of work led to the incident. Congress leader and former Sarpanch, Anil Mahapatra said after completion of construction of the office, he had lodged a complaint with the Collector and the then Bhanjanagar sub-collector had visited the spot. However, no action was initiated. Had the construction been examined properly, the mishap could not have occurred, Mohapatra said.
Bikash Acharya of BJP and Padma Charan Sahu of Congress demanded free treatment to the injured and a thorough inquiry into the incident.
Collector Prem Chandra Chaudhary has directed the local Tehsildar to furnish the report on the incident. “We’ll take further action after verifying the Tehsildar’s report,” he said. The floor might have collapsed due to soil erosion, said BDO of Sheragada, Ranjan Kumar Biswal.