MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Vedanta report "designed to hamper" disaster investigations, says police chief

Published by MAC on 2009-11-02

An Orissa police chief has declared that Vedanta's Balco subsidiary deliberately mislead the public, when reporting on September's chimney collapse at the Korba alumininum complex.  The disaster killed over forty - and  possibly substantially more - workers. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9501

No clean chit to Balco on chimney collapse

R Krishna Das, Business Standard, Kolkata/ Raipur

31 October 2009

Vedanta-controlled Bharat Aluminium Company Limited's (Balco) claim over chimney collapse has come under scanner as experts backtrack to say it is too early to establish that natural calamity resulted in the incident

Earlier, the Balco management citing the reports of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) experts had claimed that lightening strike resulted in the collapse of chimney at its under-construction power plant in Korba.

The incident that took place on September 23 claimed 41 lives.

Gannon Dunkerly and Company Limited (GDCL) had bagged the Rs 60-crore contract to build chimney in the power plant of Balco. The Chinese construction company, Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO), was awarded work for setting up 1200-Mw power plant.

Balco, in which the Vedanta's subsidiary Sterlite has 51 per cent stake, and GDCL,had invited the experts from IIT to examine the quality of second chimney-the work of which had been completed.

The experts, however, spoke about the collapsed chimney and told reporters in Korba that lightening could be a possible reason for the accident.

Since the state government had ordered a judicial probe into the matter, the Korba district administration took a strong note on the conclusion reached by the experts. The district police sent a notice to the experts concerned and sought explanation on what basis they had established that natural calamity could be the reason for the collapse.

"We had received the reply from the experts on Thursday in which they had clarified that they did not establish that lightening strike was the possible reason and asserted that it could be one of the possible reasons," Korba Superintendent of Police Ratanlal Dangi told Business Standard.

The experts even clarified that their report was based on the inputs and the sequence of the incident provided by the senior officials of the Balco, who accompanied them during the inspection, Dangi said. "Such kind of reports circulated by the company is clearly a move to hamper the investigation," the district police chief said.

When contacted, senior Balco officials declined to comment stating that the judicial probe into the incident and that it would not be appropriate to comment.

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