Jajpur: Three labourers buried alive in soil mound collapse; stone quarry mishap kills one

Two more feared dead at the quarry alleged to be operating illegally; rescue ops underway
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express Illustrations

JAJPUR: In a shocking incident, three labourers were buried alive while two others sustained injuries when a soil mound collapsed on them during laying of a water pipeline as part of drinking water project in Rahasa village under Alkund police limits of Jajpur district late on Wednesday night.

In a separate incident, another labourer died in an illegal stone quarry, pegging the number of deaths at four within last 24 hours in the district.

The stone quarry mishap took place at Dhankari under Dharmasala police limits on Thursday and till the reports last came in, two more labourers were still trapped and rescue operation was underway.

In the soil mound collapse, the deceased were identified as Akhtar Ansari (29), Firoz Ansari (24), both from Bihar, while the third victim was Chidambar V Aiyah (44) from Tamil Nadu. The deceased and the injured were contractual labourers and working for a private company.

As per reports, as many as eight contractual labourers from Bihar and Tamil Nadu were engaged in pipeline installation work of a mega drinking water project in Rahasa village being carried out by Koya Construction Limited, a private agency sub-contracted by L&T. While three labourers were engaged on the site, five others were engaged in digging the soil. However, the soil caved in during the work and three workers got buried.

Later, all five were rescued and rushed to Jajpur district headquarters hospital. However, three of them succumbed during treatment. Two others, who sustained minor injuries, were discharged from the hospital after preliminary treatment.

On being informed, Alkund police reached the spot, seized the bodies and sent them for postmortem. “No FIR has been lodged. Since details are awaited and investigation is on, an unnatural death case has been registered,” said IIC Prasant Kumar Dash.

On the other hand, in the quarry mishap, the identity of the labourer who died is yet to be ascertained. Two others are trapped under debris at the quarry till reports last came in. Sources said, the labourers were engaged in quarry of black stone when the mishap took place. The black stone quarry is operated illegally by a mafia which is alleged to be a close aide of a political party leader.

Meanwhile, Odisha Fire and Emergency Service officials and police launched a rescue operation to trace the missing labourers, police said.

BJP MLA candidate Smruti Rekha Pahi rushed to the spot demanding stringent action against the quarry operator who was operating it illegally. She also threatened to take to the streets if compensation for the deceased’s family was not paid.

RTI activist Sarbeswar Behuria alleged the black stone quarry is being operated illegally by a stone mafia, close aide of a legislator in connivance with the local revenue official, mining department and police.

“As per rule, there must be a display board showing lessee name, granted lease area with other details. But the illegal quarrying was being operated outside the lease area sans any display board or marked pillar installed by the revenue authorities. The illegal quarry was operational in connivance with local revenue officials, mining department and police,” he further alleged.

Jajpur police said efforts are on to retrieve the bodies of at least two more persons who are suspected to have been killed. “One person was killed in the accident and his body was retrieved. Two more are feared dead and efforts are on to retrieve their bodies. Rescue work is on,” said Jajpur SP, Vinit Agrawal, adding, an investigation has been launched.

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