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Why is Simplex still around?

A day after two girders of the under-construction Eastern Freeway Project collapsed and killed a labourer, an FIR was registered against personnel of the company M/s Simplex Infrastructure Ltd. It was reportedly booked under IPC sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304A (causing death by negligence), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

On November 3, 2011, a portion of the Lalbaug flyover, under construction, collapsed in Parel. The company responsible, you ask? It was Simplex Infrastructure. In May 2008, one person was killed and an auto-rickshaw driver injured after a crane at a Metro site lost balance and tilted over. The contractor at the site — take a guess. In 2009, Simplex Infrastructure was penalised for an accident at a Metro construction site in Andheri (East) after a metal scaffolding collapsed, injuring two workers.

Yesterday, we asked MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana what he intended to do about this latest tragedy caused by the company. The incident is unfortunate, he replied, and MMRDA intends to appoint an Independent Expert Committee to investigate. He added that strict action would be taken against whoever happens to be responsible.

According to us, a committee is all very well. It’s the thing government agencies do in order to buy time. What we would like to know, however, is how a company with such a shoddy safety record was allowed to continue working on such large projects for as long as it has. Why were no red flags raised the minute that first accident occurred? Why were contracts not re-negotiated after lives were lost? Why is there no transparency? And why were more people allowed to die?

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