5 labourers buried alive

Guntur: Five labourers were buried alive as the compound wall of an under-construction building collapsed on them when the earth caved in at the construction site on Thursday. The incident happened at the busy Arundalpet area here around 8:30 in the morning. When the earth caved in, eight labourers were working at the site. Other labourers and people nearby rushed to the rescue of victims trapped under the heap of earth. They managed to retrieve four labourers with much difficulty.

Officials of police, revenue and municipal departments along with fire and 108 personnel rushed to the spot and took up rescue and relief operations. It is learnt that a Bengaluru-based construction company dug out about 1,000 truckloads of earth from the site up to 12-foot depth without clearance from the Town Planning Wing of Guntur Municipal Corporation. The earth caved in when work was going on to lay the foundation. The digging was being done to raise a structure for Narayana educational institutions.

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed deep shock over the incident and directed the district authorities to speed up relief measures and conduct an inquiry. Town planning building inspector Srinivasa Rao was placed under suspension. A case of criminal negligence was also booked against the site owner Uma Shankar. The victims were identified as Nagamani (21), Adilakshmi (23), Venkateswarlu (20), Varalakshmi (23) and Padma (22). The condition of one of the four rescued persons is stated to be critical.

Three of the deceased had labour registration cards and they would be provided with an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each and Rs 25,000 compensation from government whereas others will be provided benefits under the Aapadbandhu scheme.

Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana briefed the Chief Minister about the incident. The Chief Minister instructed Collector VN Vishnu to help the victims under various schemes of the government. The Chief Minister and Minister Kanna conveyed their condolences to the bereaved families. Minister Dokka Manikya Varaprasad also visited the accident site. He ordered a thorough probe into the incident.

He directed Joint Collector Yuvaraj to probe the functioning of officials who had given clearance for the construction. Guntur East MLA Mastan Vali was among the political leaders who visited the accident site. Guntur range IG Harish Kumar Gupta inspected the construction site.

He said a case of criminal negligence had been registered against the officials involved and the construction company. He said a special police team had also been formed to nab the persons responsible for the incident. Guntur Municipal Commissioner Sudhakar informed that there was no clearance for the construction activity from the Town Planning Wing of the local body. He promised stern action against the persons responsible for the incident.

The Narayana group has planned to run a school in the area from this year. It has entered into an agreement with a textile trader, owner of the site, for construction of the school on the land leased for 20 years.

The Bengaluru company was assigned the school construction. The accident took place as the construction company failed to take up safety measures, including erection of a protection wall around the site. The Guntur Municipal Corporation has come under sharp criticism from people for its failure to take action against the construction company for carrying out work without permission.

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