Tuesday's tragic mishap in which three children drowned in trench dug up along the Mithi river has reignited the debate over the civic body's liability in accidents that occur because of negligence on part of its contractors.
Though the BMC has slapped a fine of Rs. 50,000 on the contractor for leaving the ditch unmanned, it has not announced any compensation for the victims' family.
Likewise, in many such mishaps in the past, the BMC has refused to compensate the victims or their kin and has passed the buck on to contractors in charge of the project. This unwillingness to take responsibility invited corporators' ire in the civic general body meeting on Thursday.
“Rise in the number of such accidents and deaths calls for a comprehensive compensation policy,” said Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Sheikh.
The only occasions when the civic body compensated victims or their kin were when people were hurt, and in some cases killed, by trees that came crashing. After persistent efforts from members of BMC's Tree Authority, a compensation policy was framed by the gardens department.
Activists agreed with the corporators' demand for a larger compensation policy for negligence in civic projects.
“There are a number of drains and manholes which are left open, and have led to accidents and deaths. Though a compensation policy by the BMC is necessary, the liability should be on the contractor,” said civic activist GR Vora.
Corporators also demanded stricter action against contractors when safety norms prescribed were flouted.
“BMC officials have failed in ensuring the implementation of safety and security measures stated in the tender conditions to be followed by the contractor,” said Congress corporator Asif Zakaria.
“It's a question of accountability, and the BMC must take stringent action against erring contractors.”