Probe ordered as anger against Bhushan plant grows

    By IANS,

    Bhubaneswar : Odisha Friday ordered a probe as anger intensified two days after a worker died and 15 others were left injured in a blast furnace explosion at the Bhushan steel plant in the state’s Dhenkanal district, officials said.

    The government asked the state labour commissioner to visit the site and verify if the company was concealing any information regarding the number of deaths and injuries.

    “He will gather information about the number of labourers working inside the plant on that fateful day and match what he finds with those who are alive,” a senior state official told IANS.

    Besides, a special forensic team has already arrived at the spot and started investigation to unravel the truth, he said.

    The explosion occurred Wednesday at about 10 a.m. in the blast furnace 2 at the steel plant of Bhushan Steel Ltd, at Narendrapur village, about 150 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

    Although the authorities have sealed the blast furnace after the incident and arrested three senior company officials for negligence, workers, trade union activists and politicians Friday staged protests near the plant as well as in state capital Bhubaneswar accusing the company and the government of concealing information.

    Some protestors demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, while others sought a judicial inquiry into the incident.

    “We suspect that more than 100 people were killed in the blast,” Bishnu Mohanty, the national vice-president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions said.

    The company has, however, denied the allegation.

    Meanwhile the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) said the company authorities were operating the blast furnace without the necessary permission.

    “They operated the blast furnace clandestinely. We will lodge a case against the company,” board secretary L.K. Tiwari told reporters here.

    The steel plant of Bhushan Steel Ltd was commissioned in 2006, and manufactures pig iron, billets, slabs and hot-rolled steel coil.

    It has an annual output of about 3.1 million tonne.

    The company had announced increase of capacity to six million tonne by the end of this year, and was in the process of commissioning a second blast furnace as part of its expansion project.

    At least 98 people have died in accidents at this plant since 2005, information obtained under a Right to Information Act query revealed.