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The tradegy at Shobha Magnolia Two construction workers dead and seven critically injured: Banerghatta

Report by People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka Domestic Workers Union, Slum Jagatthu, Janapara Vedike, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Stree Jagruthi, Human Rights Law Network and Alternative Law Forum.


The deaths of and injuries to construction workers have now become a regular occurrence. Even before the news of the death of a construction worker, Mallappa, aged about 40 years, due to mud caving in on him while he was excavating for a foundation in Cottonpet Main Road has died down, we now have the tragic death of two more workers at the Shobha Developers project site, Shobha Magnolia on 10th May 2008. Shobha Magnolia is a multi-storey super-luxury apartment complex spread over 4.5 acres on Bannerghatta Road (opposite Jal Bhavan) consisting of the basement, ground+19 Floors.

A group of us, concerned with this alarming recurrence of such ‘accidents’, visited the project site, the labour camps and met with several workers in this site, representatives of Shobha Developers, relatives of the injured and the injured themselves, doctors of St. Johns Hospital, K.R.Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Hospital and officials of the Labour Department. We have been in constant touch with the construction workers at Shobha Magnolia, the injured and their families and the concerned officials of the Labour department. We are producing this report with the hope that the deceased and the injured would receive appropriate compensation, criminal action is taken against Shobha Developers for failing to implement mandatory safety norms under the Building and other Construction Workers Act, 1996 and action is taken to prevent any further such ‘accidents’.

The ‘Accident’:

At around 2.30 pm on 10th May, 2008 on the construction site of the multi-storeyed super luxury apartment, Shobha Magnolia on Bannerghatta Road, the lift that was being used by workers malfunctioned, causing the death of 2 workers and leaving 7 workers severely injured. The apartment complex, Shobha Magnolia is being constructed by Shobha Developers. The workers were taking the lift to the 18th floor, and the lift, before it reached the 18th floor, started rapidly falling to the ground. Due to the immense force it bounced back to the fourth floor, before finally landing.

The fall of the lift resulted in it being crushed. The nearby construction workers had to break open the lift, after which the injured workers were taken to the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital. One of the workers, Devamma, who was 40 years of age, a native of Mudhebela Village, Bijapur District died on the spot even before she could be taken to the hospital. Another worker Devendra Kumar Jena, who was about 28 years old, a native of Orissa, died at the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital. Seven of the workers who were also inside the lift when the accident took place, were severely injured, having suffered serious abdominal injuries and multiple fractures on their hands and legs. We are in receipt of the post-mortem report of Devendra Kumar Jena, which states that, “Death is due to shock and haemorrhage as a result of the injuries sustained”. A copy of the post-mortem report is annexed with this report.

Meanwhile the police has registered a case of criminal negligence against Shobha Developers. Incidentally one of the injured, Shri Shekar has also filed a compliant with the Mico Layout Police Station (Crime No. 0274/2008) under sections 304(A) (criminal negligence), 337 and 338 (causing grievous injury) of the Indian penal Code, against Shobha Developers, the Project manager and the Site Manager. According to the police, as on 2nd June 2008, they were still investigating the matter and were awaiting post-mortem reports of two deceased and the medical reports of those injured. A copy of the FIR is annexed with this report.

Condition of the injured:

Seven of the injured workers, along with the deceased, were taken to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital and subsequently shifted to other hospitals. Of the 7 injured, three have been dischared while the remaining 4 are still undergoing treatment. Those discharged as rajeish, Ashokan and Shekar while Sharanamma, Mehboobi, Nagamma and Mudhukamma are still in hospital receiving treatment.

  • Sharanamma, aged about 29 years, a native of Chikkakeserooru village, Lingisooru Taluk, Raichur district has been admitted in Sanjay Gandhi Hospital. When she was brought to the hospital, she was in a critical position. She had compound fracture, and bones were broken on both the legs.  On 10th of May, an operation for the interlocking of tibia for both legs was performed on her. On 12th May 2008, another operation to fix the femur was performed on her. According to Mr Govind Raju, Director of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital she should be ready for discharge in about 15 days. If all goes well, she should be able to walk with assistance in one month, and it should take about 2-3 months before the wounds heal. She was shifted at 11.00 pm on 14th May 2008 to Siddlingeshwara Hospital on Kanakapura Road. She is till in a critical condition and the doctors have advised that her hospitalisation should continue since she requires continual medical attention. However, the staff of Shobha Developers overlooking the medical expenses, are forcing Sharanamma and her family to get her immediately discharged.
  • Mehboobi, aged about 30 years, a native of Yadgiri village, Madyagala Talku, Bijapur District has been admitted in St. Johns Hospital. Incidentally she is the mother of five children. She has been operated on her hands, legs and stomach. She has undergone a surgery for intra-abdominal injury, and another surgery for a fracture in her spine is to be conducted shortly. She is currently in a critical position and is in the Emergency ICU in the St. Johns Hospital. According to Dr. Davy Jacob Ollakkengin, she will have to be in hospital for atleast a fortnight more and she would take atleast 3-4 months to recover from these injuries.
  • Rajeish, aged about 28 years, a native of Orissa has been admitted in St. Johns Hospital. He has a major fracture on his lumbar spine (lumbar 1) and is to undergo surgery in the next two days. According to Dr. Rajagopalan it will take him atleast 3 weeks to be able to start walking and about 3-4 months before he will be able to resume work. Dr. Rajagopalan also cautioned that there is still a possibility of Rajeish suffering delayed paralysis due to the spinal fractures. He has since been discharged from hospital.
  • Mudhukamma, aged about 35 years, a native of Chikkakeserooru village, Lingisooru Taluk, Raichur district has been admitted in St. Johns Hospital. She has a major fracture on her lumbar spine (lumbar 1). She also has a fracture on her leg (broken), and a shattered fracture of her tibia for which she will need to undergo surgery.  According to Dr. Rajagopalan, it will take her atleast 4-6 moths to recover. If all goes well, she will be able to resume work, thereafter. Even in her case Dr. Rajagopalan has suggested that possibility of delayed paralysis due to the spinal fractures cannot be ruled out at this stage.
  • Nagamma, aged about 32 years, a native of Tapalgodi village, Manvi Taluk, Raichur district. She was shifted from Sanjay Gandhi to K.R. Hospital on Sunday. She had a blunt injury in the abdomen, where there was excess blood collection because of the injury caused to her stomach. A laparotomy surgery was conducted for it. She is presently on a ventilator, and her condition is very critical, and unsure for 72 hours (until 16/5/2008). Another surgery may have to be performed on her if everything goes well, and she stabilises after 72 hours. She has 3 children, two boys and one girl. According to Shri Mahesh Kumar, Administrator of KR hospital, she is in an extremely critical condition presently and if she survives would take more than 8 months to begin any kind of work.
  • Ashokan, aged about 30 years, a native of Orissa, who was the lift operator has been admitted in St. Johns Hospital. He has fractured both his legs and both his forearms. According to Dr. Davy Jacob Ollakkengin, he would require hospitalisation of atleast another fortnight and would 3-4 months for the injuries to heal. He has since been discharged from hospital.
  • Shekhar, aged 53 years, a native of Bengalooru, employed as a Foreman has suffered fractures on both ankles. He is receiving treatment in St. Philomena’s Hospital. He has undergone surgery for this right leg but will require about 3 months for this leg to be reconstructed, according to the doctors. Surgery is yet to be carried out on his left leg and post the surgery it would require about 1 year to completely heal. According to his relatives, another surgery would be required after 6 months as well and as such it would take atleast 1 year for him to move about freely. He has since been discharged from hospital.

Promises and lies – The response of Shobha Developers:

We met with and spoke to Mr. Narasimhan, Deputy General Manager, Human Resources, Shobha Developers at the Shobha Developers office in Wilson Garden on the afternoon of 12th May 2008. We are disappointed by the response of the company and especially so of the false promises and assurances that were given to us.

  • Mr. Narasimhan stated that the company is concerned with this ‘most unfortunate accident’. According to him, the families of the deceased have already been given an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 1 lakh on humanitarian grounds and has already shifted the bodies of the deceased Devamma and Devandra to Bijapur and Orrisa respectively. He also stated that Shobha Developers has already given Rs. 25,000/- to each of the families of the injured and has undertaken to bear the complete medical expense of all the injured persons. Over and above this ex-gratia amounts, the workers would be entitled to Workman’s Compensation as per the law.

On our first visit, on 12th May 2008, all the injured and their family members denied receiving any money from Shobha Developers. In fact, they stated that the employees of Shobha Developers who are overseeing the medical expenses are treating them very badly. They went to the extent of stating that the relatives of the injured, who were looking after the injured, were facing great hardships and had to beg the employees of Shobha Developers for even food and tea everyday. However, when we visited the injured and spoke to their family members a few days later, we have been told that they have received Rs. 25,000/- each. However, they said, that this money was given to them only after being compelled to sign on a paper, by which the worker gave up all claims (civil, criminal or monetary) against the Company, except the monetary amount he was to receive from the Insurance Company.

  • Mr. Narasimhan also told us that the work at the construction site of Shobha Magnolia has been presently stopped by Shobha Developers as a safety audit is being conducted. During this time, when the Company itself has stopped work at the construction site, the wages of all the workers shall be paid on all days where work was not continued.

The construction workers, who have been houses in ‘labour camps’ in Tavarakere, informed that no since work had been stopped from 10th May they were not receiving any wages and were facing severe hardships. Work on the Shobha Magnolia construction site has since been resumed with no pay being given to the construction workers for the days on which work was suspended owing to the accident.

  • In regard to the accident Mr. Narasimhan told us that the concerned lift had been subject to periodic checkup and certified as fit for use by the supplier only 15 days before the ‘accident’.

According to the workers, this lift was making strange noises for almost 10 days before the incident and they had even complained about this but to no avail.

  • Mr. Narasimhan categorically denied that the lift fell from around the 18th floor arguing that the project Shobha Magnolia has only 9+1 floors, insist that the lift fell from around the 6th floor!

Workers on the project site who are eyewitnesses to the incident, relatives of those injured and various newspapers have reported that the, the representatives of Shobha developers, This is completely false and fabricated since Shobha Magnolia, according to their website is 19+1 floors.

  • Mr. Narasimhan also stated that Shobha Developers is ‘100% complying company’ and had adhered to all the applicable laws including the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and conditions of service) Act, 1996.

This is also untrue.

Firstly, the construction workers at this project site are not registered under the Act and Shobha Developers have not taken any steps to ensure that the workers were registered. We believe that any construction company purporting to be concerned for the welfare of its workers, the first step would be to ensure that its workers were registered under the Building and other Construction Workers Act, 1996 so that the workers could enjoy all benefits mandated under the Act. Shri Hittanagi, Deputy Labour Commissioner and Member of the Karnataka Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board told us that just two months prior to this ‘accident’ the Labour Department has held a labour camp at Shobha Magnolia for getting workers registered under the Act. Still this was not done. If the workers had been registered under the Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board, the family of the workers who had died would have received Rs. one lakh each, and the injured workers would have received specified amounts with regard to the disability suffered by them. None of the workers were however registered as beneficiaries under the Board.

Secondly, this is not the first ‘accident’ at a project site of Shobha Developers. In fact, at Shobha Magnolia the site of the present accident, there have been atleast 3 accidents previously of which, for two proceedings under the Workmans Compensation Act is presently underway.

  • One worker Sharat s/o Dijan, aged about 22 years, suffered an accident on 06.07.2008 sustaining injuries on his left hand.
  • On 28.11.2006 another worker, Mudamma, was severely injured when some construction material fell on her from the 4th floor. She underwent open-head surgery, which was covered by Shobha Developers but sent home without receiving any compensation.

In regard to these two ‘accidents’ compensation proceedings are under way in the Labour Department.

  • In a subsequent ‘accident’ Bhimanna Markaladhimmi fell on some rods and died. Even in this case, his family received no compensation. The construction workers at the ‘labour camps’ also told us that Shobha Developers have not reported either of these cases to the concerned authorities.

Moreover the accidents at other Shobha Developers construction sites are also numerous with the accident at Infosys Technologies in Electronics City in December 2006 in which five labourers (Ramesh, Nagaraj, Tirupati, Nagappa and Basavachandra alias Vijay) died while seven workers (Gaffur, Bijju, Ajmeer, Venkatappa, Kencha and Narayana Reddy) were injured, due to collapse of the scaffolding is still not forgotten. In fact all these workers also were migrants coming from Lingisooru taluk in Raichur district.

Response of the Labour Department

Shri Ramachandra, Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workman’s Compensation stated that according to the information the labour department had received, the accident took place at at around 2.30 pm at the construction site in Shobha Magnolia, an apartment building under construction the accident took place where the lift which was carrying 9 construction workers fell while going up. The lift that was carrying 9 workers including the lift operator fell from the 17th floor, due to which 2 died and 7 of them have been injured and are currently undergoing treatment for their injuries.

Shri Ramachandra has gone on record stating that the Labour Department has constituted a three-member Technical Committee including the Chief Inspector and the Chief Engineer to investigate the causes leading to the ‘accident’. Subsequently, the Labour Department would take all the necessary action depending on the findings of the Technical Committee. Incidentally even Shobha Developers have initiated an in-house enquiry to look into the causes leading to this ‘accident’. In our meeting with Shri Ramachandra on 06.06.2008, he has informed us that the Technical Committee has since completed its investigation and finalised its report. Quoting from the report he stated “The incident has occurred due to the failure of main mechanical parts i.e. rick and pinion arrangement and parachute breaking system attributed to improper maintenance and negligence on the part of Messrs Shobha Developers.”

In regard to the compensation to the dead and the injured, Shri Ramachandra has stated that Shobha developers have deposited the compensation amount with regard to the deceased to the labour office. He further stated that each of the deceased, depending on their age and work duration, would receive anywhere between Rs. 4-5 lakhs as compensation. With regard to the injured persons, he stated that compensation shall be dependant on their level of disability and the ability to carry on the same work they were performing before the accident. They will need to produce documents and a doctor witness who will certify their percentage of disability. However, he added, that no compensation under the Act, had been disbursed since the families of the deceased or the injured had not filed any claims petition before him.

Shri Ramachandra categorically stated that the supposed amounts given ex-gratia by Shobha Developers to the families of the dead and injured is given out of humanity and that the amount of compensation due to them under the Workman’s Compensation Act is excluding this ex-gratia amount. He also informed that Shobha Developers had taken an insurance policy for its workers, however the claim of the worker for compensation shall lie against the Company, who can thereafter recover such amount from the insurance company.

Other issues:

Shobha Developers, according to their website is committed to Corporate Social Responsibility, and “hasn’t overlooked the wealth of opportunities that exist in society and community at large. Having been sensitive to social issues right from inception, it takes the act of giving back to society seriously and continuously”. These include:

    * Welfare of its workers and tradesmen who are not on Sobha’s pay rolls.

    * Workers’ Housing Colony – for facilitating a better quality of life and dignity

However, this is hardly backed up by the ground reality of the construction workers employed by Shobha Developers.

Inadequate and inequal wages:

In our conversations with the construction workers we found that there were 800 workers at the Shobha Magnolia project site. The workers employed as coolies, helpers, for housekeeping, lifting an transportation of construction materials, etc. were receiving daily wages of Rs. 90 for men and Rs. 75 for women, which has been increased from Rs. 75 for men and Rs. 55 for women from the month of April. It must be noted that this is much less than the minimum wages payable to construction workers, and discrimination between men and women in the payment of wages, is illegal and punishable as per the Equal Remunerations Act.

Inhuman living conditions:

Further the construction workers are housed in ‘labour camps’ in Tavarakere in most inhuman conditions. These tin sheds, on an average are 5’x8’ only. There is no proper drinking water supply and no electricity and the toilets are few and insufficient. During rainy season, the ‘labour camp’ gets flooded causing further problems. In a sense this exposes not just Shobha Developers but the farce that corporate social responsibility actually is.

What needs to be done?

  1. 1. The Police must carry out proper investigation and file its charge-sheet within the stipulated period and ensure punishment to those guilty within Shobha Developers.
  2. 2. Shobha Developers must pay just compensation to the families of the deceased and the injured in accordance with the law.
  3. 3. Shobha Developers must cover all expenses to be incurred in the treatment of those injured, and must ensure that the good quality treatment is received by the injured until such time that they have fully recovered.
  4. 4. Construction workers at the Shobha Magnolia site, must be paid full wages for the days on which work was suspended owing to the accident.
  5. 5. The Labour Department must make the Report of the Technical Committee public and take appropriate action against Shobha Developers
  6. 6. Shobha Developers must pay minimum wages to all its workers and also pay equal wages to men and women. The Labour Department must conduct an immediate enquiry in this matter.
  7. 7. Shobha Developers, and all other Developers, must comply with all safety norms according to the Building and other Construction Workers Act, 1996, International Labour Organisation’s Safety and Health in Construction Convention No. 167 of 1988 and the provisions for safety in the BBMP Building Byelaws 2003 (section 26).
  8. 8. The Labour Department has to ensure that the Developers adhere to the safety norms.

Other Accidents on Construction Sites across Bangalore

as reported in various newspapers

Sl. No.



Details of deceased / injured

Native of deceased / injured

Brief details of accident



Leela Kempensky site

Govindamma (50 years)

Tamil Nadu

She fell into an uncovered escalator shaft from the second floor




Dinesh (25) dead





Ramamurthynagar Police Station limits

One worker dead Sampige Rajendra (45)

Tamil Nadu




hotel building on Bannerghatta Road

Construction worker dies (Uttam Nag (23)), two injured

West Bengal

Steel rods falls on them




One construction worker died (Raju (35)) and seven others were injured. (Shiva, Selva, Jayasheela, Kalaiban, Suresh and Shiva)

Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu

Roof of a building under construction collapsed



Biocon Park

Three labourers were killed and one person was injured

Workers were trying to remove some sheets of a shelter being built to install a water treatment plant when it fell on them.



Electronics City unit of Infosys Technologies

Five labourers (Ramesh, Nagaraj, Tirupati, Nagappa and Basavachandra alias Vijay) killed, seven injured (Gaffur, Bijju, Ajmeer, Venkatappa, Kencha and Narayana Reddy)

Lingsugur taluk in Raichur district

Scaffolding collapses

Sobha Developers,



Vydehi Medical College and Hospital

Tilak Raj (24)

Tamil Nadu

Falls to death fell from the scaffolding



Sooladevanahalli police station limits

One worker dead Girijamma (28)

Fell from the second floor of a building under construction



Cunningham Road

One worker dies (Srinivas (32)) and two injured (Nagappa (28) and Mallappa (32))

– resident of Lingarajapura

– Gulbarga

As earth caves in



Apartment under construction near Electronics City

Bidan Birala (28)

Falls to death




Mallappa (40 years)

Gulbarga district

Workers were excavating the ground

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