Six die in second Pune wall collapse in 3 days
Six construction workers were killed in their sleep and four others injured when a boundary wall collapsed and buried their shanties in Pune’s Ambegaon as heavy rainfall continued to pound the city on Monday night.
Fire brigade officials identified the six as Radhelal Ramnaresh Patel, 25, Jetu Lal Patel, 50, Mamta Radhelal Patel, 22, Priyadarshani Patel, 45, Jitu Chandan Rawte, 23, and Prahlhad Chandan Rawte, 30. While the first four were from Chhattishgarh, the latter two were natives of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh.
This is the second such incident in Pune in three days. Fifteen people, including four children and two women, were killed in their sleep when a housing society’s compound wall fell and buried a cluster of adjoining tin-roofed shanties housing migrant workers and their families from Bihar.
Heavy rainfall since the onset of the south-west monsoon on Friday has paralysed Pune and caused flooding, and traffic jams.
Pune’s district collector, Naval Kishore Ram, said the nine-foot-high boundary wall in Ambegaon collapsed mostly due to gushing waters. He added uprooted trees in the area, too, had weakened its foundation.
Ram said the victims were sleeping and were buried under the debris of the wall of an educational institute of the Sinhagad Group. He added the builder, Balasaheb Dangat, who set up the shanties for the labourers working at a nearby construction site, did not take into account the vulnerability of the wall before setting them up.
“Prima facie it looks that the trees along with the wall came crashing down on the victims which led to their deaths. The builder’s negligence is proven and it is his responsibility to look after the safety and security of the construction workers he hires,’’ said Ram. He added that an inquiry is on and strict action will be taken for the violations that led to the loss of lives.
The land on which the construction workers were living belongs to one Sakharam Ganpat Kondre.
Police said the fire brigade and National Disaster Response Force personnel were pressed into service for a search and rescue operation that lasted for three hours until 1 am on Tuesday.
Vishnu Pawar, in charge of Bharti Vidyapeeth police station, said a case of accidental death has been registered during the first phase of investigations. “The shanties were unsafe and the builder did not take safety measures for the construction workers,’’ he said. The police have booked developer, contractor, college manager and building permissions department under Indian Penal Code sections 304 A, 337,338 and 34.
“Moreover, the educational institute also was negligent in the maintenance of its boundary wall, which had weakened due to the mushrooming roots that weakened its foundation.”
Sinhgad institution released a statement after the incident saying: “We express our deep sorrow and feel extremely grieved to know about the death caused due to collapse of wall adjoining our campus.”
Pune mayor, Mukta Tilak, said that the tragedy took place due to the uprooted trees and gushing rain waters. “Efforts are being taken on a war footing and 287 construction sites have been checked and camps set up for workers are being paid adequate attention so that there is no repeat of such incidents through alertness and advanced safety planning,” she added.