The “violation of safety norms” and the “tearing hurry” shown in commissioning a power unit were key reasons behind the 1 November blast at state-run NTPC’s Unchahar power plant in Raebareli, says a report. The report published by the Delhi Solidarity Group — a civil society group — also said that the number of deaths is under reported and migrant labourers with no formal training and safety gears are forced to carry out critical operations of the project.
“Many migrant workers are still missing and their whereabouts are not known to anyone,” claims the report titled “How Many Deaths Will It Take… A Preliminary Report on Unchahar Tragedy”. Meanwhile, an email query sent to NTPC on this report remained unanswered. The 1,550 MW Feroze Gandhi Unchahar Thermal Power project, a coal-based power plant, met with an accident at its Unit VI, which was under construction, killing at least 46 and injuring many, it said.
The report further said that most of the labourers had suffered burns of 50-70 per cent and doctors are of the opinion that even if they recover from injury, they would be impaired for life and the ones with very severe burns might not live more than three to four months. The report also recommended a judicial enquiry into the accident to investigate it thoroughly and to fix responsibility on the ones who erred.
It also recommended that the government should immediately constitute a task force to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing persons and the Ministry of Power should carry out an audit of all coal power plants to ascertain the state of workers, adherence to safety measures and preparedness for emergencies.
“The tearing hurry in commissioning the unit VI of the Unchanar Thermal Power project, violating all safety norms, is the key reason for the explosion at the project on November 1,” the report said. The reports of NTPC’s internal committee and a panel set up under Electricity Act by Power Ministry are yet to be made public.