The death of 11 construction workers in the wall collapse at an under-construction stone-crusher unit in Dholera village of Mahendergarh district has exposed negligence on the part of the district administration and the Haryana labour department.
The owners of the upcoming unit have violated the Building and Other Construction Workers’ (BOCW -Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, as they did not get most of the labourers registered before the commencement of the work.
“Out of the 11 deceased, only two labourers had been registered under the BOCW Act. The BOCW Welfare Board will pay a compensation of `5 lakh each to the families of registered labourers who died in the incident, besides the relief announced by the state government,” said Dinesh Kumar Yadav, assistant director (Rewari and Mahendergarh) of the labour department.
“Yes, this is the violation of BOCW Act and the owners of the site or the contractor should be booked under criminal cases”, he said and added that as per the law, the contractors should also pay `5lakh to the family members of each deceased worker, who is not registered under the Act.
WE ARE NOT ROBOTS, CANNOT STOP CONSTRUCTION, SAYS DC
When asked why the district administration allowed construction of the stone-crusher without a no-objection certificate, Mahendergarh deputy commissioner Atul Kumar said, “That is why they have been booked, without caring about their political links”.
On why the district administration did not take action against the illegal construction in the district, he said, “Why don’t you look at the positive angle. We are not robots meant to control private construction. However, we swung into action soon after the incident and provided relief to the victims,” he added.
Asked if action would be taken against the erring officers, the DC instead boasted about the quick response of the administration after the incident. “It is for the first time that the compensation is being provided within a few hours after the incident. Also, local MP Dharambir on Saturday visited the hospitals where the injured are undergoing treatment,” he added.
LABOUR DEPT ORDERS PROBE
Meanwhile, labour commissioner CR Rana said there were several violations of the BOCW Act and to look into these violations, the labour department had initiated an investigation and it would also file a complaint in the court in this regard. The owners would also be told to pay compensation to the deceased and injured workers, who were not registered.
‘CONSTRUCTION WAS ILLEGAL’
Narnaul sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Mahesh Kumar said that the ongoing construction of the stone-crusher unit was illegal as its owners did not apply for the no-objection certificate for the project.
Stone-crusher owners Naveen (alias Chunni Lal), Sohan Pal Yadav, Gulshan Yadav and Prem have been arrested already.
When asked about the links of the owners with Santosh Yadav, BJP MLA from Ateli, the officials said, “Owners are relatives of Santosh Yadav, but we haven’t not got any information about her direct direct association with the crusher. Meanwhile, authorities are also investigating the land record of the site”.
RICH BOARD OF POOR WORKERS
As per the officials of the Haryana labour department, the BOCW Welfare Board had collected `1600 crore by March 2015 under the Building and Other Construction Workers' Welfare Cess Act, 1996, but it has so far spent `54 crore only on 24,705 registered workers for their healthcare and education of their children and other facilities.
Though the government claims to have four lakh registered workers in the state, only 2.5 lakh workers got the registration renewed this year.
Labour commissioner Rana said, “The problem is that most of the construction workers are migrants. We can provide them benefits after one year of their registration, but most of the workers leave the state after completion of a particular project”.
He added, “Now, we have started online registration system and registration of workers has also been made mandatory for small contractors also”.
WORKERS UNION BLAMES LABOUR DEPT AND DIST ADMN
Accusing the Haryana labour department and Mahendergarh district administration of failing to protect the interests of the construction workers, Haryana Bhawan Nirman Kamgar Union president Deshraj Singh said that the labour department should also file a complaint against the owners of the stone-crusher.
“It is an illegal construction and the wall collapsed due to negligence. As per the law, the labour department should also file a complaint to the government against the owners. However, the officials of the department are busy in distributing cheques to the families of the victims,” he said. “We will also raise the demand for `5 lakh compensation from the owners to the family of the each deceased and injured workers who wasnot registered, as per the BOCW Act.
HHRC SEEKS REPORT FROM CS
Chandigarh: Taking a suo motu cognisance of the wall collapse at an under-construction stone-crusher plant in Dholera village in Mahendergarh district in which 11 labourers were killed, the Haryana Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the state chief secretary (CS) to file a detailed report into the matter within four weeks.
An HHRC release said on Saturday that the commission also sought to know what regulations had been framed by the state government for the safety of labourers working at stone-crushers so that such untoward incident did not take place in future.
It further said that the commission sought to know as to what regulations had been framed by the state government regarding the specifications to be undertaken by a stone-crusher owner. “Who is the authority to regulate the construction of stone-crushers? What kind of structure stone-crusher should have? And the safety apparatus available at the stone-crusher and other measures so that such untoward incident does not take place in future,” the commission asked while issuing a notice for September 21 to the chief secretary to file a detailed report within four weeks.