Chhattisgarh police summons Balco CEO for chimney crash


Raipur : Chhattisgarh police have summoned the CEO of aluminium major Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) for the Sep 23 collapse of an under-construction chimney at a power plant in Korba that killed 45 workers, officials said.

Support TwoCircles

“We want to know certain things about the chimney crash tragedy from the Balco management and we have issued a notice to its CEO, Gunjan Gupta, to report to Balco Nagar police station at the earliest,” Vivek Sharma, station in-charge of Balco Nagar police station, told IANS over the phone.

He said a police complaint on the directive of the state government had already been filed against Balco and Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL) after a 100-metre chimney for the 1,200 mw thermal plant collapsed in the industrial town of Korba, 250 km from here.

Forty-five bodies have been retrieved and several workers employed on contract by GDCL are still missing though the rescue operations are nearing an end.

Vedanta Resources controlled Balco in which the Indian government holds 49 percent stake, had awarded a China-based firm, Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO), rights to construct a 1,200 mw thermal power plant at Korba. SEPCO later outsourced construction of the 275-metre chimney for the plant to GDCL.

According to police officials, SEPCO had locked its Korba office and its over 70 engineers of Chinese descent had fled from the city to avoid public anger.

Police say they have alerted authorities at Raipur’s Mana airport to stop SEPCO staff from leaving the state as they need to be interrogated about the tragedy. A judicial probe has already been ordered by the state government into the incident.

The Balco tragedy has also become a political issue in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state with the opposition Congress accusing the state government of “going soft against the Balco management for deadly lapses”.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ajit Jogi, who staged a sit-in at the crash site Tuesday, told mediapersons in Raipur Wednesday that the BJP government should recommend a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the mishap and “strongest action” against senior Balco officials.

Jogi demanded that the Balco management immediately announce a Rs.2.5 million compensation package for the families of all victims.