Fireworks expected at metro board meeting

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) board meeting scheduled for today promises to be a raucous affair, with MMRDA deciding to pull up MMOPL for lax safety parameters at metro sites.

cement slab, under-construction staircase, crashing down
Remains of the day: One person was killed and 16 others were injured when a cement slab from an under-construction staircase came crashing down on the metro rail project at Andheri on September 5. File pic

According to a senior MMRDA official, the accident that took place at the metro site on September 4 was a result of safety procedures not being followed by the contractors. Moreover, in order to keep a stringent check on the ongoing work, MMRDA has also decided to conduct surprise visits and click pictures at project sites to see if contractors are following safety norms. “We will increase the frequency of surprise checks, and will also take pictures at various sites. If the contractor is not adhering to safety norms, then these pictures will be used as proof when we initiate action against the contractor,” said a senior MMRDA official, on condition of anonymity.

The planning authority will also raise the issue of workers’ safety and rake up accidents that have occurred along the 11.07 Km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) metro rail corridor in the past.

According to sources, MMRDA is also peeved with MMOPL’s statement released after the cement slab came crashing down in Marol, killing one person and injuring 16 others. “We were really disappointed with the way MMOPL was trying to shed its responsibility after the accident. In a statement they said that it was the subcontractor who is answerable and not MMOPL. How can an agency that is the contractor and a majority stakeholder even say this? We will raise this concern at the board meeting and make it clear to them that passing the buck is inexcusable, and also tarnishes MMRDAs image.”

Sensing that the planning authority will be taking them on at the meeting, a statement was issued by MMOPL yesterday wherein it was stated that a high-level meeting of MMOPL officials took place on Monday and it was announced that suspension is enforced at all construction sites on the VAG corridor. This means that work along the entire corridor has been stopped completely.

Stop work
It was also stated in the statement that with highest respect for human life, safety and quality, MMOPL has taken the decision to suspend the work; the suspension will facilitate an independent safety audit and also ensure adherence to the highest safety standards at all locations.

“MMOPL will resume construction work once we are confident that all that all contractors/vendors are committed to all safety norms. All respective contractors were notified about this decision. However, there will be no escalation in project costs or the completion deadline will be affected by the suspension,” said a spokesperson from MMOPL. 

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