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Millennium Post

Putting the poor at risk

In the satellite town of Faridabad bordering the national Capital in two back-to-back incidents of building collapse eight labourers have died so far. The Tuesday incident took place at an under construction school building which was coming up in Sector 88 of Greater Faridabad. The incident was so enormous that a team from the National Disaster Response Force had to be summoned from the neighbouring Ghaziabad district to rescue the trapped labourers. Though the quick response saved many more lives but the incident has once again raised questions about the safety and insurance of labourers deployed at such construction sites.

Surprisingly Haryana labour minister Shiv Charan Verma who visited the site gave a clean chit to the owners and contractors of the buildings without even ordering an enquiry saying that the building had ‘collapsed on its own’ and there was no fault of its owner.

He directed the school management to pay Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 each to the injured. This raises the moot question of a minister being so insensitive towards the safety and protection of construction labourers who mostly belong to the unorganised sector.

The Faridabad incident was not an isolated case. There have been several similar incidents in and around the national Capital region including the infamous building collapse in Lakshmi Nagar a few years back which left several dead. On Wednesday too a building collapsed in East Delhi which left five people dead. Property dealers in league with developers and more importantly in absence of government monitoring make hay, putting the lives of the poor at risk.

The complicity of government officials in the Faridabad disaster is visible in the way they have sought to deal with the culprits in the matter. A case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been filed against owner of the land, lease holder, engineer and the contractor.

The government could have done better to register criminal cases under tougher sections of the penal code which could have denied them easy bail in the matter. Cooling of heels behind the bars could have acted as deterrent for the people who are putting lives of the poor to risk.
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