Chennai journalist death: Corporation says unfinished trench was not built by it

Muthukrishan, who was working with the Tamil media group Puthiya Thalaimurai, died after he fell into an unfinished storm water drain (SWD) near Kasi theatre in Chennai on Sunday.
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Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi on Monday, October 24 said that the trench Muthukrishnan fell into was not constructed by the Chennai Corporation but by another department. This comes a day after a Chennai based young journalist Muthukrishan lost his life due to the lack of safety measures at the construction site. Muthukrishan, who was working with the digital team of the Tamil media group Puthiya Thalaimurai, died after he fell into an unfinished storm water drain (SWD) near Kasi theater in Chennai. His death has shocked citizens as many residents raised their concerns over the manner of SWD projects being carried out. 

Bedi was addressing a press conference where he talked about the safety measures taken by the Chennai Corporation in the SWD construction work at Ripon building, Chennai. “I ask the people to cooperate with officials to prevent any Storm Water Drain (SWD) accidents,” he said. 

Muthukrishnan was on his way home after work near Ekkattuthangal on Saturday night, October 22. He fell into the trench near Kasi theater, passed out and lay in the trench for more than two hours before getting help from the city police. He was sent to his home which is located in Kandhanchavadi, where he visited a private hospital for checkup. The hospital referred him to the Royapettah Government Hospital. He passed away on October 23 while he was undergoing treatment.  

In a press release, the Chennai Corporation mentioned that it issued circulars to the officials and contractors concerned regarding the safety measures including the barricades. It also noted that the corporation has fined the contractors for not following the safety guidelines.  

“We have given circulars since June to the contractors and officials that barricading is a must. Construction workers only remove the barricade at night for the concrete works,” the Chennai Commissioner said. According to him, contractors have been advised to put up the barricades in the construction sites and insisted on using the casuarina poles where the barricades are available. The Tamil Nadu government has also given guidelines regarding the issue to other departments. I ask people to be very aware of the construction works,” he added.  

In some places, people are just adjusting the barricades to reach the other side of the trench, which is not advisable. Barricades should not be shifted. People should inform the officials if anyone shifts the barricades, he said. If citizens find no barricades at the construction site, they should inform the police officials, zonal officials, and councilors concerned or can call 1913 to prevent any accidents. “As a corporation commissioner, I must convey the message that such accidents can be prevented if the officials and people work together. The Tamil Nadu government is concerned about the welfare of all,” he added. 

In many areas of Chennai, the stormwater drainage work has been undertaken in a haphazard manner. Residents have been complaining about the danger of trenches left open without barricades in many areas, and iron rods protruding from the ground in many places even after construction work was completed. Earlier on October 18, MG Dawood Miakhan, who is the general secretary of the Quaide Milleth Educational and Social Trust, sustained serious injuries after falling into a trench at Kasturi Rangan Road. Dawood was trying to cross the open space on a narrow plank that was laid across the trench when he fell. He sustained injuries to his head and fractured his arm. He said that he suffered a head injury, as well as multiple fractures in his right hand.  

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