Vijay Kumar (57), who was travelling in the autorickshaw, died on the spot. The driver Vinod Samarbahadur Singh (35) sustained severe head injuries. Singh was admitted to the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Parel after receiving preliminary treatment at Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle.
According to a police official, the accident took place near A H Wadia High School on J P Road at 10.30 am. “The pile rig overturned while the pile tests were being conducted at the metro rail construction site. A case of accidental death has been registered. Further investigations are being conducted,” said Ajendra Thakur, senior police inspector of the D N Nagar police station. “Eyewitnesses say a major accident was averted as a double-decker bus had passed just seconds before the pile rig collapsed,” said a police official on condition of anonymity.
A pile rig or a pile driver is a mechanical device used to drive concrete piles into the soil as the foundation or sub-structures for bridges and buildings. The pile rig at the accident site was being used for driving piles and conducting pile load tests for the 11.4-km first corridor of the Mumbai Metro Rail, from Versova through Andheri to Ghatkopar, being constructed by a Special Purpose Vehicle company, the Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd.
This pile rig was nearly 30 metres high and weighed about 100 tonnes.
Vinod, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, has been driving an autorickshaw in the city for eight years now. His brother, Amit Singh, said: “He was scheduled to go to home on May 20, but God had other plans.” He added that Vinod’s pregnant wife has been in a state of trauma ever since she was told about the accident.
Meanwhile, officials of Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd, a consortium led by Reliance Energy Ltd, expressed “shock” at the accident. “A detailed technical investigation is being conducted to identify any lapses that caused this accident,” said a press statement issued by the company.
Murli Krishnan, deputy project manager for Simplex Infrastructure Limited that is contracted to conduct the civil works for the Metro rail project, said: “We deeply regret the tragic incident at our site. We have initiated a detailed inquiry to ascertain the exact cause of the accident and strict action will be taken to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur.”
What Really Happened: At 10.15 am on Wednesday, the crane operator started up the pile rig drill. Unaware that the spot the pile driver was pointing to had been dug earlier and was filled with soft soil, the operator started up the engine of the pile rig. Owing to the loose soil, as the pile-driver arm began to rapidly sink, one end of the crane began to tip over. Within seconds, the entire pile rig collapsed on its side. The contractors had placed huge barricades on either side of the pile testing site, but the rig’s weight took down the barricades as well
The Fallout: Immediately, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Consumer Protection Cell demanded withdrawal of the traffic department’s permissions for the construction. Sunil Mone of the BJP said: “Firstly the traffic police shouldn’t have given the permission for the construction work on the road. After the site is barricaded it leaves little space for vehicular movement. We demand traffic permissions should be withdrawn.”
What the MMRDA said: “It is an unfortunate accident,” said Metropolitan Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad. “There haven’t been any complaints of congestion on the Right of Way, as most of the roads along the route are wide. The only narrow stretch is from Navrang Cinema to Andheri station, but that’s not where the accident happened today.”