Two labourers employed under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-sponsored sewerage project in the Majitha Road area died when a portion of earth reportedly caved-in on them on Thursday.
The incident took place about 11am when the victims - Kishna and Dev Dutt from Lakhimpur Kheri, who would be in their 40s - were digging earth in a 10-feet pit at Guru Har Rai Avenue when a portion of earth caved-in on them, burying them alive. However, no injuries were reported in the incident.
Eyewitness said it took nearly 30 minutes to an hour to lobourers working there to dig out their bodies - Kishna's body was dug out first as it was close to the surface, while it took almost an hour to dig out Dev Dutt's body.
Police said the work, which was being undertaken by Lucknow-based Jyoti Consultants, was going on here for past many days and was on the verge of completion.
SHO at the Sadar police station inspector Vavinder Kumar, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, said: "The work of the sewerage project was on the verge of completion when the incident occurred."
The police have started investigations into the matter, but no case was registered in this connection so far. "The matter is being investigated under Section 174 of the CrPC,"the SHO said.
Meanwhile, municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda said that he would institute an inquiry into the incident soon.
At present, nearly 73% area of the city was already under sewerage and the remaining 27% was likely to be covered by the next year, said Kharbanda.
The JICA-sponsored sewerage project was sanctioned in 2007 to provide complete sewerage connectivity to the Amritsar residents. The project has been marked by delay for several reasons, which led to escalation in the cost of the project.
The initial cost of the project was around Rs 350 crore, which reached to Rs 600 crore due to delay.
The main reason behind the inordinate delay is said to be the deteriorating health conditions of residents where it is yet to be laid.