A 10-member inquiry committee set up by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to investigate the Yerwada slab collapse incident, which killed five workers and injured at least four others, will submit its primary report in the next two days, said Sudhir Kadam, Superintendent Engineer of PMC’s Construction Development department.
Abhay Gite, Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Pune, “We have received approval from the state government for an amount of compensation that is five lakh per deceased person. The clearance procedure has been started for. A proposal to provide Rs 2 lakh to the injured workers is in process.”
The incident led organisations like Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Shramik Hakka Andolan, Bandhkam Kamgar Sangha and Akhil Bhartiya Theka Mazdoor Mahasangh to raise concerns over the safety of labourers.
According to B Youvraj, president, Shramik Hakka Andolan, “The reality is that PMC is not strictly monitoring construction activities within its limits. Kondhwa, Kharadi, Baner and now Yerwada, mishaps at these places have the same connection. The administration has disrespect for the workers and for their own orders.”
He added, “PMC had clear orders regarding private constructions and the registration of workers yet there is little compliance. We have filed RTIs and have protested before and it is clear from their own data that the construction department had failed to perform their duties.”
Sachin Mengale of Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Mahasangh said that their organisation has demanded at least Rs 50 lakh compensation for the deceased and Rs 25 lakh for injured labourers. He further added, “Anyone responsible for the accident – builder, contractor or engineer — should be punished and a standard operating procedure should be prepared by the respective department to prevent future accidents.”
According to the Maharashtra government and PMC’s orders, unregistered labourers with Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board should not be allowed to work on site. The order has existed since 2017 but its implementation seems missing, he said.
When asked about it, Gite said, “Since July 2020, we have made the registration process online for the ease of labourers. We have tried to create awareness through campaigns. In this process, contractors and builders can also contribute. The process is easy, they help labourers register themselves. Soon, we will initiate drives to further ease out the registration process.”
S Rangam, secretary-cum-CEO, Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Worker’s Welfare Board, said, “Daily thousands of construction labourers register themselves on our website. Currently, I have data for January 30 which says we received a total of 15,57,134 applications and 13,21,279 have been processed. For Pune district, 36,069 applications have been accepted, 15,797 require document clarification, 4,994 have been rejected and 3,266 are pending. So, this is an ongoing process. We will appeal contractors, builders, social workers and NGOs help labourers get registered. Mostly workers who come from other states are unaware of such registrations and require help.”
Around 100 labourers led by Sharamik Hakka Andolan gathered near Yerwada Naka (labourers’ stop) opposite Yerwada regional office to protest for their rights to security, respect and employment two days back.
The march began from the same spot with slogans of “Stop labour deaths” and “We don’t want bloodbath — we want safety, respect and work” throughout the way.
“Today they have lost their lives, tomorrow it may be us. Why do our lives not matter? They will have to pay at least Rs 25 lakh for each deceased labour,” said one of the protesters Anita Lashkare.