AT least 20 people were killed and 70 injured when a massive explosion ripped a boiler in NTPC’s Unchahar plant in Rae Bareli district of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon.
The accident involved the 500 MW boiler of the Unchahar project’s brand new Unit 6, which was commissioned just six months ago. While the PSU, in its official response, maintained that the accident was triggered by “hot flue gases and steam” escaping from the affected unit, a source involved in the exercise said it was caused by a blast in the boiler unit. The bodies of workers who were in the vicinity of Unit 6 at the time of the incident were flung several metres from the site due to the intensity of the blast, said the source.
“At around 1530 hrs on 01.11.2017 there was sudden abnormal sound at 20 mt. elevation and there was opening in corner no. 2 from which hot flue gases and steam escaped affecting the people working around the area,” said the statement issued by NTPC. It added that while around 80 people were rushed to NTPC hospital, “most of them were discharged after giving first-aid”. “In the mishap, 8 people succumbed to the injuries. About 10 persons with serious injuries have been referred to nearby hospitals and to Lucknow to provide immediate treatment,” it said.
But Additional Director General, Law and Order (UP Police), Anand Kumar confirmed that 20 people had been declared dead so far. He said the toll may rise as rescue operations were still on. Most of the injured, including three senior NTPC officials, have been referred to Lucknow. UP Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said six of the injured who are undergoing treatment in Lucknow had suffered 90 per cent burns.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is in Mauritius on a three-day official visit, has ordered Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of those killed, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured, and Rs 25,000 for the other injured, said officials.State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd had commissioned the 500 MW Unit 6 of NTPC Ltd’s Feroze Gandhi Unchahar Thermal Power Plant in Uttar Pradesh on April 3 this year. BHEL’s mandate involved manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of boiler, turbine, generator and associated auxiliaries. Earlier, BHEL had commissioned the existing five units of 210 MW each of the thermal plant as well.
The NTPC management has set up an inquiry to investigate the reasons for the accident.Union Power Minister R K Singh expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives and said he had directed NTPC Chairman and Managing Director Gurdeep Singh to rush to the site.
Additional Director General, Law and Order (UP Police), Anand Kumar said all available ambulances were pressed into action and the additional district magistrate and additional superintendent of police were at the spot to supervise relief and rescue operations. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was also despatched to the explosion site from the state capital for relief and rescue operations, an official said.
Dr N K Srivastava, Chief Medical Superintendent, Rae Bareli District Hospital, said 34 of the 37 injured people who were brought to the hospital had been referred to Lucknow. “I was working at the plant when I suddenly heard a loud sound. We fell on the ground. There was a huge ball of dust… I fell unconscious,” said Anil Kumar Yadav, 26, who suffered injuries on his hands and legs.“After the blast, I saw a huge fire… I fell unconscious,” said Indra Pal, 24, who had injuries on his face and hands.
(With PTI inputs)