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Engineers sweep labourer's death under the carpet

In an attempt to cover up an on-site mishap for nearly a week, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) officials concealed the death of a labourer who fell from the top of a building under construction at Killa Junction in Belapur on Saturday. The concerned NMMC engineers and the contractor not only abstained from reporting the accident to the police, but also failed to convey the matter to NMMC administration till the issue was brought to the notice of the mayor of Navi Mumbai.

NMMC construction, labourer fell to his death
Safety last: The NMMC construction site where the labourer fell to his death on Saturday. The safety nets were added on Thursday afternoon

According to labourers working at the site, the deceased had not worn a safety belt while he was doing cabling work on top of the building. “We were working on the second floor of the building when we heard a bang. We rushed in the direction of the sound and found the labourer lying in a pool of blood. Our supervisors then asked us to go away and keep quiet about the accident. We really do not know what happened after that,” said labourers who requested anonymity.

Surprisingly, Ajay Sankhe, executive engineer of NMMC, who is in-charge of the construction of the building, preferred to hide the matter rather than inform the authorities. Neither the contractors, nor NMMC engineers made any complaint at the NRI police station, which happens to be just 500 metres away from the site.

Sankhe did not come to office and did not answer phone calls on Thursday after his role in concealing the death of the labourer came into light. Similarly, officials of Ashwini Infrastructure refused to reveal anything when asked about the accident. Interestingly, the contractors whose negligence led to the death of the labourer were seen installing safety nets around the building on Thursday.

S D Vedak, senior police inspector of NRI police station, said “As per my information, no complaint about an accidental death of any labourer has been registered with us by NMMC. However, I will look into the matter and take proper action.”

Once completed, the building under construction will be the new headquarters of NMMC in the next few years. The contract for its construction has been awarded to Ashwini Infrastructures.

When the matter was leaked and it reached Mayor Sagar Naik’s ears, he sought details of the accident and reportedly reprimanded engineering and administration officials for the negligence.

Incidentally, just a few days back, Naik had given compensation to poor families of victims who lost their lives in accidents and natural calamities. “It is a serious issue, since the concerned officials hid the sensitive matter from us. I am going to issue a show-cause notice to the concerned officials. Also, we will take strict action against the contractor for the negligence,” said Naik.

Mohan Dagaonkar, city engineer and the head of the engineering department of NMMC, could not be reached for comment. Sources at NMMC said inquiries will be conducted to check whether Dagaonkar has any role in concealing the death of the labourer from the mayor and administration. 

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