The labourer fell while cutting the massive tree branch seen on the ground at Adenwala road, Matunga East. Pic/Shadab Khan
A lumberjack went out on a limb to allegedly trim trees without a safety harness and paid for it with his life. He fell from the tree branch he was cutting and died on the spot. The police have denied that the woodcutter was working without a safety harness and said that he fell despite taking the precaution.
The incident took place on July 15, near Five Gardens in Matunga East, which has a dense population of trees. Before and during the monsoon, the BMC often hires contractors to trim trees around the city to prevent branches and trunks falling on the road. The victim, Abdul Rehman Khan (37), was working for one such contractor on Saturday morning, trimming a massive branch of a Gulmohar tree on Adenwala Road.
"The incident occured at 11am when Khan was standing on the branch while other labourers and supervisors were guiding him from down below. Khan was wearing a safety harness, but fell despite that. Based on our investigation, we have, as of now, registered an Accidental Death Report," said PSI Dhiraj Gavare, investigating officer from Matunga Police station.
Khan fell from a height of around 20 feet and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Eyewitnesses claim that the mishap happened due to negligence, as the labourers were not seen wearing any safety harness.
"Khan and the other labourers arrived in the area at 10.30 am. While climbing the tree, Khan had already slipped twice before he could position himself properly on the branch. He was not seen wearing any safety belt. Other labourers were busy tying up the branches of the tree so that once they were cut, they would not collapse directly on the road," said Akshay Karkare (21), an eyewitness at the spot.
An official from the Garden department of the BMC said, "Before issuing the tender for tree cutting, we clearly mention that all safety measures need to be taken and they are mandatory for the contractor to follow."
Despite repeated attempts to contact the contractor, he refused to comment on the incident.
Local activist and member of AGNI, Nikhil Desai said: "The BMC should make it mandatory to use machines whenever branches of tall trees need to be trimmed. The primitive method of someone climbing a tree for trimming is dangerous."
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