Chhattisgarh appoints judge to probe Balco accident


Raipur : The Chhattisgarh government has appointed a district and sessions court judge to investigate the Sep 23 chimney collapse that killed 45 workers at an under-construction thermal power plant of Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) at Korba town.

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“The single-member bench of Sandeep Bakhshi will make a comprehensive investigation based on six points and will submit the report to the state government that has set a three-month deadline for completing the probe,” a senior official of the General Administration Department (GAD) told IANS.

The GAD order letter, which was formally issued late Tuesday, said the single member-bench will investigate several aspects of the tragedy, including the circumstances in which the chimney caved in.

The judge will also probe whether sub-standard construction material was used for the construction of the chimney and whether steps and precautions were taken for the safety of workers.

Vedanta Resources Plc-controlled Balco, in which the Indian government holds a 49 percent stake, had awarded Chinese firm Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO) the task of constructing two thermal power plants of 600 MW each at Korba, about 250 km from here. Later SEPCO outsourced the work of construction of a 257-metre chimney to Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL).

Korba police had arrested GDCL project manager Manoj Sharma Oct 7 on charges of several lapses, including using sub-standard construction material for the chimney.

Police had last week interrogated about 20 Chinese engineers employed by SEPCO at Korba.