The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Larsen & Toubro, jointly developing Mumbai’s maiden mono rail project, have decided to strengthen safety measures at the project site after two labourers were killed in an accident last week. To start with, the state-run MMRDA, which is involved in planning and implementation of various infrastructure projects, has already set up three committees seeking suggestions for upgrading safety measures in implementing the project.
L&T, which is jointly implementing the project with Malaysian major Scomi Engineering Bhd, has also formed a committee for the same purpose.
An L&T official played down the accident and said it was not a cause of worry. He informed that the construction major followed all the safety norms and standards to reduce accidents to a minimum level. “We have a list of safety code and provide safety equipment including goggles, helmets and shoes to all our workers. In fact, our safety code is comparable to international standards.”
The accident took place on June 1 at Jijamata Nagar in Chembur when a 60-tonne guideway beam was being aligned by workers. One died when the beam fell down, while the second was crushed to death under another toppled beam. Three others were injured in the collapse.
The 20-kilometre monorail project worth Rs 2,716 crore will connect Jacob Circle, Wadala and Chembur, with Jacob Circle to Wadala on Line 1 and Wadala to Chembur on Line 2. The Mumbai monorail will have 18 stations in its entire route.
In July 2009, six workers of a Delhi Metro project were killed at the Zamrudpur area.
Mumbai Additional Metropolitan Commissioner Ashwini Bhide said there was no need to raise questions over the project in the wake of the accident. “We need to scale up safety measures, especially in areas like improvement of monitoring and enforcement (of safety codes). From now, we will have a zero tolerance to laxity,” she added.
Bhide said the committees were monitoring whether the safety codes were being adhered to. She also informed Business Standard that the testing of the full line would take place from the last week of January 2012.
“There has been no delay in the project on account of the accident. The trial-run on the Wadala-Chembur line will begin from August, as planned. This line will be ready for use from December 2011.”
Industry experts have called for properly implementation of safety standards. Arvind Mahajan of consultancy major KPMG said, “It is too early to comment on the incident. I think today the scale at which infrastructure projects are being undertaken, we have started moving from the largely unorganised to organised-planned infrastructure. It requires advanced safety equipment. Even though the implementing agency has a good track record of maintaining safety standards, it is unfortunate that the incident happened.”
He added that in a generic sense, safety procedures should be strengthened to avoid such accidents.
Arun Mokashi, a transportation expert working on a World Bank project in Hyderabad, had a completely different picture to offer. He said, “In any rapid transport system, safety is a major concern. But the monorail system is very advanced. Its wheels have a special technology to cling to the tracks. Therefore, there is hardly any possibility of an accident.”
Talking about workers’ safety, Mokashi added, “Technology cannot take care of everything. People have to be disciplined. Whether it is the prospective monorail passengers or the workers, safety precautions have to be strictly followed. There is otherwise no inherent danger in the system.”