One killed, 15 hurt in Bhushan Steel mishap

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Government warns strict action in case of safety lapses by company authorities

A deadly fire accident at the blast furnace no. 2 of Bhushan Steel plant at Meramudali in Dhenkanal this morning has killed at least one person and injured 15 others, many of them seriously.

The government, meanwhile, has detained three senior officials of the plant suspecting safety lapses by the company authorities leading to the mishap.

The company said, about 120 workers and technical staff were present in the vicinity of the blast furnace, which was under the commissioning process, during the mishap.

“They have said only one person was killed, but we are awaiting complete report on how many people were inside and what is the casualty figure,” said Rupa Roshan Sahu, collector, Dhenkanal district.

The deputy director of factories and boilers, who visited the place today, ordered complete closure of the blast furnace no. 2 of the plant.

“The company did not take permission from us before commissioning of the blast furnace, which is a rule violation,” said Malay Kumar Pradhan, deputy director of factories and boilers. The government would take a decision on partial or complete closure of the plant after getting complete report of the cause and casualties of the fire accident, said CTM Suguna, secretary of labour and employee state insurance department.

The company said the accident happened due to presence of water in slag pipe.

“The blast happened due to presence of water in slag pipe. It is a usual phenomenon. We were commissioning the blast furnace with the help of foreign professionals,” said Atulya Kumar Burma, chief operating officer (COO) of the steel firm.

The state government today said, it will not hesitate to take stricter action if Bhushan Steel was found guilty in the investigation of fire accident.

“The lapses must be corrected immediately. We will not take this kind of incident lightly and we will not hesitate to take stricter action,” said Bijayashree Routray, State Minister of Forest, Environment and Labour.

Workers of the factory today blocked the national highway near the plant site protesting against lackadaisical attitude of the company towards safety measures resulting in such kind of mishaps frequently.The fire accident was so severe that it destroyed a truck and a JCB machine standing nearby and a plant wall collapsed due to the blast. Soon after the accident, all the injured workers were shifted to the SCB medical in Cuttack. Meanwhile, politics over the incident intensified as labour unions and opposition parties demanded complete closure of the plant.

“The plant operated a blast furnace without permission. The plant must be shut down, otherwise innocent workers will continue to die,” said Bijay Mohapatra, senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

(Press Trust of India , Dhenkanal (Odisha) , November 13, 2013)

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