M A I N   N E W S

Delhi mall cave-in leaves 11 dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 25
Eleven contract labourers were killed and at least five others are still feared trapped in yesterday evening’s cave-in at an under-construction shopping mall in Jasola village in South Delhi.

At least 17 labourers, most of them from Malda district of West Bengal, were working overtime in a 50-foot trench at on over 5,000 square metre site for a shopping mall when earth caved in yesterday apparently due to the weight of a huge billboard erected near the site.

* More feared trapped
* 2 builders arrested
* Govt announces ex gratia, Indian Colonisers offers relief
* Safety ignored, allege trade unions.
* CPM delegation visits site

Rescue teams swung into action immediately and after non-stop overnight operations extricated 11 bodies from the rubble, Delhi Fire Service officials said here today.

“We have information that at least 17 persons were working at the site when the incident happened,” they said, adding that the rescue operations would continue till all bodies were recovered and the debris removed.

Digging work to lay the foundation of a huge commercial complex has been under way at plot number 6, Jasola District Centre, for over five months now.

The police said the land was owned by India Colonisers Private Limited and New Age Builders had got the construction contract. Massive digging work was under way at the adjacent plot leading to piling up of loose earth all over.

“It is a matter of negligence and proper legal action would be taken,” Joint Commissioner of Police, Southern Range, B.S. Bassi said.

Meanwhile, the ghastly incident drew the ire of trade unions, which blamed the construction company and the state authorities for neglecting the safety of workers.

“Improper preventive safety arrangements at the construction site, besides causing the tragic accident, created delay in the rescue operation,” said CITU secretary Tapan Sen.

A Communist Party of India (Marxist) delegation, led by Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat, visited the site and alleged that the deaths were caused by the criminal negligence of the builders who did not ensure minimum safety norms.

Probe ordered

The Delhi Government today ordered an inquiry into the collapse of the basement of a mall under construction in Jasola which killed 11 persons

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who ordered the inquiry, also said the families of the victims would be given adequate compensation.

An exgratia of Rs 1 lakh would be given to the families of the deceased workers, Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those with minor injuries, Ms Dikshit said. Indian Colonisers Pvt Ltd, which owns the land, also announced Rs 1.5 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 25,000 to the injured.

All families who have suffered loss of lives will be offered jobs by the company, said Rumneek Bawa, CEO of India Colonisers.

According to an IANS report, the police today arrested two managing partners of the company constructing the building.

The duo — S.K. Khattar and Arun Khandujia of New Age BuildCon Construction Company — was arrested from their residence on charges of negligence. 

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