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Frame rules to curb trench deaths: HC

In a bid to ensure that trenches dug by Brihanmumbai municipal corporation (BMC) contractors don’t end up as death traps, the Bombay high court has ordered the civic body to come up with precautionary measures.

mumbai Updated: Apr 14, 2011 01:40 IST
HT Correspondent

In a bid to ensure that trenches dug by Brihanmumbai municipal corporation (BMC) contractors don’t end up as death traps, the Bombay high court has ordered the civic body to come up with precautionary measures.

A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar, on Wednesday, asked the BMC to file an affidavit stating precautionary measures like regular inspections and surveys of roads where digging work is in progress.

On January 5, Mariamma Naidu, 60, from Wadala, who had gone to fetch milk at 6am fell into a pit dug by civic contractors and died. The pit was dug to replace the underground Storm Water Drain (SWD) line in Wadala.

“We are interested in the future. We cannot bring the lady back, but we can ensure that such incidents don’t occur in future,” justice Desai said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a Khar businessman Indur Chhugani seeking criminal action against negligent BMC officers and contractors for leaving trenches open and putting citizens’ lives at risk.

The court even expressed concern over the number of roads dug up in the city, especially those around which no barricades were put up.

On Wednesday, Subramaniam Thevar, labour contractor of the Wadala site where Mariamma died, gave a demand draft of Rs 50,000 to the court on Wednesday.

The draft will be given to Mariamma’s husband and two children.

The contractor had agreed to the suggestion by the high court the last time about awarding compensation to Mariamma’s family.

The judges asked the public prosecutor to ensure the draft reaches the family.

Coming back to the trenches dug by the civic body and left open, justice Desai said, “Recently, we read in newspapers that a child went into a construction site and met with an accident. You [BMC] should have proper mechanisms or a system in place to barricade construction or digging work.”

VP Patil, advocate for Chhugani, argued that contractors and BMC officers should be booked for criminal negligence.

“Giving compensation is a good gesture, but that should not absolve them of criminal negligence,” Patil said.