A person has the right to move freely without the fear of getting killed or hurt, the Bombay High Court said while directing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to formulate safety guidelines for the use of cranes in construction of high-rises.
A division bench of Justices G S Kulkarni and R N Laddha in its order on Thursday noted that it was “high time” the BMC gave special attention to the safety requirements at construction sites and said it was certain the civic chief would look into these issues so that appropriate directives/guidelines are formulated.
On February 14, a large cement block came crashing down from the 52nd floor of the under-construction Four Seasons Private Residences project at Worli in central Mumbai, killing two persons standing outside the premises.
A petition was filed by Lokhandwala Residency Towers Cooperative Housing Society Ltd located next to the under-construction building alleging lack of proper care by the developer Provenance Land Pvt Ltd in the use of cranes at the construction site.
The high court in its order said the February 14 incident was “too unfortunate” and that it was “deeply pained” by it.
“It can never be countenanced that innocent lives are lost even by accidents of such nature caused by objects falling from a suspended crane located at an enormous height, which a person on the ground may ordinarily not notice, as the one installed at the present site,” the court said.
“We are deeply pained to note such incident and we hope that none of the high-rise constructions in the city of Mumbai should make people vulnerable and prone to such accidents, in which innocent people would get hurt or lose their lives,” it added.
The court cited that it was a common sight in Mumbai where several high-rise buildings that are under construction have large suspended cranes.
“We firmly believe that a right of a person to move freely, in places which are not actual construction sites, if are threatened by a fear of being killed or hurt, this would certainly amount to violation of one’s fundamental right to livelihood, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said.
The court wondered if there was any inspection, approval and certification of the operation of such cranes by any recognised specialised agency, which may be appointed by the developers.
“As to what are the norms of safety and/or precautions, required to be implemented in undertaking such constructions, so that they do not affect those who are outside the construction site, i.e., in the adjoining land/premises or on the public road, in the vicinity is an important aspect which would be required to be taken into consideration,” it said.
The bench further said it was certain the BMC chief would look into these issues so that appropriate directives/guidelines in this regard are formulated.
It directed the civic body to within two months to look into the issues inter alia concerning safety measures in the operation and use of cranes in high-rise constructions.
“We are certain that in the event the municipal corporation formulates any guidelines and intends to issue appropriate directives, the urban development department of the state government shall act upon any such proposal of the municipal corporation with utmost expediency,” the court said.
In the present case of construction being done at Four Seasons Private Residences project, the court ordered for a committee comprising structural engineers, architects and technical engineers to be formed to oversee the construction.
The petition had raised concerns over a suspended crane installed by the developer in its project, which is likely to endanger human lives in the event of any accident.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Prateek Seksaria and advocate Mridul Sharma contended that a lack of proper care, negligence/mishandling had caused the unfortunate incident on February 14.