Safety first while working in monsoon: Experts

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By Chittaranjan TembhekarĀ  www.indiatimes.com

MUMBAI: The state’s decision to continue work on Metro, monorail and flyovers during the monsoon, rather than putting them on hold for four months, was hailed by most citizens who are eager to see the construction work end.

However, the recent mishaps in which three labourers, two at a monorail and one at a Metro site, died seem to indicate that the machinery is not equipped to ensure the safety of labourers on the job during the monsoon.

Though the reports of the MMRDA and the independent agencies carrying out the work are not out as yet, construction experts have admitted that the recent deaths were due to negligence of safety aspects and lack of discipline.

“Lack of care clearly reflects in the recent mishaps that occurred at the monorail and Metro sites. I will suggest that the government appoint a permanent construction safety engineer of chief engineer’s rank who will directly report to the MMRDA commissioner. His job should be to visit sites and check men, machine and material for safety,” said N V Mirani, retired principal secretary of public works department (PWD).

Mirani added, that special care has to be taken during the monsoon as one gets less space to work due to flooding.

“Girders, beams, cranes, hooks and other equipment get slippery and sometimes go out of order. Effect of water and wind on construction works should be given a thought. Independent agencies should be appointed to check the safety of projects during and after the work,” he said. Putting a curved girder atop the pillars is a special task which can go wrong due to minor mistakes, he added.

An MMRDA source said that it was ridiculous to expect that work that was already delayed due to red-tape and lack of ground work management would be completed by work carried out in the monsoon. “It’s a wrong approach to any project,” he said. Technical expert Atul Bhobe of Bhobe Associates said that safety should always be the top priority. Round-the-clock safety audit of construction sites is necessary to make the project a success, he said.

Meanwhile, an MMRDA official said that they only stop foundation works during monsoon but continue to carry out superstructure works with proper safety measures.

A technical expert Atul Bhobe of Bhobe Associates said struggling for deadlines can never be a right approach to the project construction. According to Bhobe safety should be at the top of the priority. In these cases, he said, safety might have been overlooked and hence round-the-clock safety audit of construction sites is necessary to make projects a success.

According to an MMRDA source how can the work that has been already delayed due to red-tape and lack of ground work management to clear project sites for construction be accomplished by pacing up the construction works only during the four months of monsoon. “It’s a wrong approach to any project,” he adds.

When the state decided to continue work on the Metro, monorail and flyovers in the monsoon, rather than putting them on hold for four months

When the state decided to continue city’s metro, mono and flyover construction work in monsoon, deviating from the tradition of putting them on hold for four months, people keen to see them operational were more than happy.

However, the recent mishaps in which three labourers, two at monorail and one at metro rail site, died indicated that there was something horribly wrong with the machinery which was not geared up to ensure safety of civil construction as well as the labourers on the job, especially during the four months of monsoon.

Though the probe reports of the MMRDA and independent agencies contracted for the projects are yet to be revealed, the experts in construction works admit the fact that negligence of safety aspects and lack of discipline were the prime reasons behind the recent damages and deaths.

Both the projects, 20 km long monorail between Jacob Circle and Chembur via Wadala, and 12 km long metro rail between Versova and Ghatkopar via Andheri are being implemented by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) headed by none other than Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

“Lack of care clearly reflects in the recent mishaps occurred at mono and metro rail sites. I will suggest government to appoint a permanent construction safety engineer of Chief Engineer’s rank who will directly report to the MMRDA commissioner. His job should be to visit sites and check men, machine and material for safety,” said N V Mirani, an expert and retired principal secretary of PWD N V Mirani.

Mirani said a special care has to be taken during monsoon as due to flooding one get lesser space to work. “Similarly the girders, beams, cranes, hooks and other equipments get slippery and sometimes go out of order. Effect of water and wind on construction works, especially the quality, should be given a scientific thought. Independent agencies should be appointed to proof-check the works and safety of projects during and after the works,” he said. Putting a curve-shaped girder atop the pillars is a special task as loss of gravity can easily occur in case of minute mistakes, he added.

According to an MMRDA source how can the work that has been already delayed due to red-tape and lack of ground work management to clear project sites for construction be accomplished by pacing up the construction works only during the four months of monsoon. “It’s a wrong approach to any project,” he adds.

A technical expert Atul Bhobe of Bhobe Associates said struggling for deadlines can never be a right approach to the project construction. According to Bhobe safety should be at the top of the priority. In these cases, he said, safety might have been overlooked and hence round-the-clock safety audit of construction sites is necessary to make projects a success.

Meanwhile, an MMRDA official said normally the administration stops only the foundation works during monsoon but always continue superstructure works with proper safety measures.

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