A torn banner bearing signs of the fatal crash at South City Mall
Police are trying to trace the events leading to the collapse of a metal scaffold at South City Mall that left one worker dead and three injured on Sunday.
Sleuths took Dip Biswas, a deputy general manager of the mall who has been arrested, and a few workers to the atrium of the popular shopping destination where the scaffold had collapsed.
Deb, who was supervising work at the time of the accident, and the labourers were asked about the kind of safety measures followed and what had led to the collapse of the scaffold.
Four workers were tying buntings standing on the scaffold that was at least 80ft high when the structure collapsed. Ashok Halder, who plummeted straight to the ground floor, died. The other three suffered multiple injuries and have undergone surgery. The condition of one remained critical on Tuesday.
“It seems the balance between the top and the base of the structure was disturbed, which caused the scaffold to become top-heavy and topple. We are trying to find out whether the scaffold, which had wheels at the base, was moved from one spot to another while the four were on it. Moving a scaffold with workers on it is a violation of the safety protocol. The workers and the manager have given contradictory statements on this,” said an officer at Jadavpur police station.
The mall authorities pleaded innocence, blaming the workers for not following the standard safety measures.
“We had all safety arrangements in place. But the labourers were overconfident and they often refused to abide by the safety guidelines. We tried our best to ensure that they wore helmets and safety belts,” said an official.
The police said they had not found any safety gadget when they visited the spot. “Had we found helmets and safety belts of the victims on the spot, we would have seized them. But nothing was found. It is possible that the mall employees had removed them before the police reached, just as they had wiped bloodstains off the floor, which amounts to tampering with evidence,” said an officer of Jadavpur police station.
The broken glass door of Sarvottam’s (a sari shop on the second floor), into which a part of the scaffold had crashed, was yet to be replaced on Tuesday. A banner that one of the workers had held on to before falling on the floor still bore signs of the accident.
The police have contacted the state labour department to seek its opinion on the violation of safety norms. “Officials of the department visited the spot once yesterday. They are better-placed to identify the violations,” the officer added.
The South City Mall authorities intensified security from Monday, deploying at least one bouncer on each floor to ensure that no one stood at the glass railing for more than a few minutes.