A labourer from Uttar Pradesh died when he was buried under earth, which caved in while he was working to lay underground drainage pipelines for a Metro Water project at Pallikaranai here on Tuesday. Three other workers who were trapped along with him were rescued by local residents and personnel of the Fire and Rescue Services.
Metro Water was laying the drainage pipes in Pallikaranai and its adjoining areas that were added to Chennai Corporation two years ago. The contract for work on the stretch at Vallal Pari Nagar-I Street had been awarded to SEW-P&C-AIPPL, as a joint venture between the two Hyderabad-based construction firms.
Police said Manoj (23), Bahadur (28), and Rajesh (25), all from Uttar Pradesh and Venkatesh (45), a resident of Mambakkam, were standing inside a 20-foot deep and 5-ft wide pit, which was dug for laying the main pipeline at Vallal Pari Nagar, when the mishap occurred. Rajesh was using a tilling machine to remove rocks by breaking them down when sand from one side of the pit buried the quartet alive around 4 pm.
JCB operator Mani who saw the accident informed his supervisors, who in turn alerted police and Fire and Rescue Services. Mani said he ran towards the pit and rescued Bahadur who was attempting to bail himself out. He was soon joined by local residents and passersby who helped Manoj to climb out of the pit. Personnel from the Tambaram Fire Brigade led by station officer Surya Prakash arrived at the scene by 4.20 pm. Earth-movers were pressed into service with a group of 25 rescue workers besides another vehicle from the Emergency Rescue Centre in Guindy.
They rescued Venkatesh who was taken to hospital with the other two workers. Around 7.20 pm, rescue personnel located Rajesh inside the pit and pulled him out. He was rushed to the Chrompet Government Hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Police registered a case under section 304(A) (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code following the accident.
Lax Safety at Site?
Following the death of a worker during laying of drainage pipelines, residents of Vallal Pari Nagar criticised the poor safety standards employed at the work site. They claimed that there were no warning signs to indicate the presence of pits and manholes in the area, which posed a risk to both workers and pedestrians.
The labourers reportedly did not wear any uniforms, boots and safety helmets during work.