The pit where a 22-year-old worker got buried under soil on Wednesday night did not have protective wooden planks that could have saved his life, said a Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) official.
Chhalman Mallick, the victim, got trapped under a column of soil 10 feet below the surface while working in a KMC project to lay pipes under Suhrawardy Avenue in Park Circus.
Mallick, a resident of Nazat in the Sandeshkhali sub-division of North 24-Parganas, was working at the bottom of the pit, looking down, when the subsidence occurred.
No police complaint was lodged till late on Friday.
“Whenever a pit is dug for some work, the standard practice is to insert wooden planks into the edges so workers at the bottom of the pit do not get buried in the event of a subsidence. The process of installing the wooden planks is called shoring,” said a KMC engineer.
“Shoring was not performed in the pit where the worker died on Thursday.”
Mayor Firhad Hakim said on Friday he has asked the municipal commissioner of the KMC to investigate the death. “We have also asked the family to meet us. We will stand by the family,” he said.
When asked whether appropriate safety measures were taken, Hakim said: “If the probe reveals there were some deficiencies, we will take corrective measures”.
He also said it is not possible to do shoring in some cases.
The site was not well-illuminated and streetlights were the only source of illumination after sundown, said a KMC official.
The preliminary post-mortem report says Mallick, who was hired by a contractor who was awarded the contract for the pipe-laying project, suffered an asphyxial death, said a police officer.
Asphyxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen.
“We are awaiting the final post-mortem report. Whatever we have learned from the preliminary report, there are no indications of foul play. It was a case of asphyxial death,” the officer said.
A cases of unnatural death has been registered at Beniapukur police station.
In February 2021, four workers died while cleaning sewer lines in the Kudghat area.