INDIA: Building collapse claims nine lives in Pune

08 September 2016 10:34

The collapse of a 13th floor slab on a construction site on 29 July 2016 at Pune, Maharashtra State (India) has left nine workers dead and another five injured. The nine dead workers were internal migrants from Bihar state. The building project is a joint venture led by Pride Purple Group, but also involving the Samarath Group, the Abhinav Group and Mrigank Construction Group. Police immediately charged and arrested a number of individuals, including the foreman in-charge of the site and the project’s architects under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. Police have also filed charges against the CEO of the joint venture, who is currently on the run

Health and safety concerns remain a major issue in many South Asian countries. The BWI affiliate in Maharashtra State – Maharashtra Building Construction, Forest and Wood Workers Union (MBCFWU) – sent a small team to the site to assess the situation. 

On first glance they observed serious problems with health and safety systems and project management. Adequate safety measures had not been implemented, putting workers in unsafe conditions. Permission for the 13th and 14th floor (where work was taking place) had not yet been granted by local administrative authorities. In response, the State Government has announced interim compensation of INR. 200,000 for the deceased workers’ families. 

President MBFCWU Dadarao Dongre reacted strongly to the incident. “Greed for profit is driving builders and companies to compromise on health and safety measures and disregard human lives. This has to end. We need to see an end to the kind of collusion between builders and local authorities that contributed to this accident. Strong penalties will act as a deterrent to such behaviour”. 

The MBCFWU has initiated consultations with other unions in Maharashtra State to launch a statewide campaign for: 

    - strict enforcement of the building codes and other related policy regulations; 

    - improved labour inspectorate system; and 

    - to include trade unions in the monitoring of compliance to health and safety. 

    On top of this, Maharashtra State unions are demanding that all workers get their due compensation under the Workman’s Compensation Act.