Five construction workers died and a liftman was critically injured on Sunday morning when the service lift of a 23-storey tower at Matunga came hurtling down from the 21st floor.
The deceased have been identified as Suresh Wadekar, 25, Sunil Nigar, Abdul Khan, 35, Modi Gupta, 30 and Rajaram Satta, 50.
All of them died on the spot. Santaram Kewa, 30, the liftman, suffered severe head injuries and is in a precarious condition at Sion hospital. The incident happened around 11am.
The temporary service lift is used to carry construction material in the building. The building had come under the Transfer Development Rights (TDR) in the area. Several houses of the tower are under construction and renovation. The five workers who died were from Jharkhand. They were carrying paint and construction material.
“It was a 25 square ft lift. It was in a bad shape. The push button had to be kept pressed to keep the lift moving upwards or downwards,” said a construction worker.
The lift had a wooden plank base that was fitted on iron angles and a cable rope. It also reportedly had no covered cabin and was open from three sides. “The service lift was in place since the construction activity began in the building four years ago. It was in bad shape. But since the work is nearing completion we thought we will manage with it,” added the worker.
The repair and redevelopment have been underway on several floors. “Houses on the 3rd, 5th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st and 22nd floors are still under construction. The building has only eight tenants so far,” said Ram, the security guard of the high rise.
“I came to know about the accident in the afternoon when I had gone out for some work. I have seen workers using the lift. No safety measures are adopted for them. The lift is open and is used to carry heavy equipment and construction goods. This could have been the reason of the accident,” said a resident requesting anonymity.
A site official added that the service lift could only go up to the 20th floor but the workers tried taking it till the 21st floor. The lift broke down because of this.
However, local area MP Eknath Gaikwad who inspected the spot agreed that the incident was due to the negligence of the builder.
Assistant commissioner of the ward (F-South) SY Kurhade stated that the civic body has little accountability in the mishap as the tower comes under the domain of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). But officials from SRA did not comment on the issue.
The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the lift contractor as well as five people from the developer’s office. “Cases of offence have also been registered under sections 308 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). We have also registered a case against a few SRA officers. Statements of some workers and eye witnesses have also being recorded,” said senior inspector Sunil Deshmukh.
(With inputs from Sunchika B Pandey)