The preliminary inquiry report on the incident at Wadala (East), in which a 60-year-old woman died after falling into a pit dug by civic contractors on Wednesday morning, puts part of the blame for the accident on the contractor, saying he did not barricade the area properly.
The report, compiled by officials of the civic Storm Water Drain (SWD) department, stated that there were tin sheets around the pit, but they were inadequate and some parts of the pit were left open.
“It was here that the woman slipped and fell into the pit,” said an official from the SWD department. The report also said the woman may not have seen the pit due to poor visibility in the morning.
Sources from the department also said this was not a big project and the work to replace 210 metres of old box drains by pipelines estimated at Rs 30 lakh should have been completed in two months. But, the contractor has been working on this project for the past six months.
“The contractor had suspended the work without reinstating the pit during the monsoons and had begun work only last month,” an official said.
Locals alleged that a man had fallen into the same pit some time ago, but had been rescued as it was afternoon and he had screamed for help.
“The work was being carried out on MTV Road in Wadala, which is the only way to reach Wadala station and used by lakhs of people,” said local NCP corporator Niyaz Vanu, who had raised the issue in the civic standing committee.
This is not the first time that the BMC has come under fire for failing to strictly supervise works by contractors. Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said even those from the civic supervisory staff, responsible for making sure that security conditions are put in place before starting any civic work in a public place, would be pulled up and face action.
He said following this incident, BMC would ask all its supervisory staff to make sure repair work on roads, public places and high density areas was well barricaded and provisions made so that barricaded areas could be clearly seen in the night and early morning.