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BALCO, SEPCO, GDCL responsible for chimney collapse: Report

Posted on Dec 22, 11:47AM | UNI

A judicial commission -- probing the Bharat Aluminium Company Limited chimney tragedy in Korba -- has held BALCO, China's Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO) and Delhi-based Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL) responsible for "unauthorised" construction and collapse of the 225-m-high under-construction chimney that claimed 40 lives three years back.

The 122-page report of the one-man commission, comprising Justice Sandeep Bakshi, was tabled today in the Assembly by Labour Minister Chandrashekhar Sahu.

Submitting the Action Taken Report, the Minister said, "Charge-sheets have been filed against 14 accused, including three senior officials and engineers each of BALCO and SEPCO and six of GDCL. While the case is pending in a Korba court, all the accused are out on bail." The Ministry had issued directives to the departments of Environment and Housing, Urban Administration, Commerce and Industry for taking action as per the Commission's recommendations.

Considering all aspects of the mishap and reports of various technical organisations and experts, the Commission firmly concluded that serious lapses in both civil and mechanical engineering led to the collapse at BALCO's 1,200-MW thermal power plant site on September 23, 2009.

Referring to the Memorandum of Understanding inked between the Chhattisgarh regime, State Electricity Board and BALCO in October 2006 regarding setting up the power project, the Commission expressed surprise over sub-leasing of construction of two chimneys by BALCO to SEPCO and then to GDCL in violation of the agreement's provisions.

The report also held BALCO and its two contract companies equally responsible for taking up construction of the chimney sans permission and approval of its design by the local administration in clear violation of the Chhattisgarh Factory Act, 1962; Land Development Act 1984 and Municipal Act 1956.

The Commission further pulled up the municipal authorities, Labour Department and concerned authorities for their negligence and failure to check the illegal construction by BALCO, which reportedly used substandard material and compromised on labourers' safety.