The news of two major explosions in two large steel plants of eastern India in last three days has shaken the people of Durgapur as well. The industrial town of Durgapur houses two major steel units of the Maharatna PSU SAIL and several small steel plants as well. The incidents has made the people of Durgapur, who are mostly factory workers, a bit scared.
On Wednesday (November 13), at least one person died and 17 others were critically injured when a fire broke out at blast furnace No 2 of Bhushan Steel Plant at Meramunduli in Dhenkanal district of Orissa. Three of the 17 injured undergoing treatments in Cuttack have been shifted to a private hospital as their condition turned critical, official sources said.
Three successive explosions occurred during commissioning of the slag granulation plant (SGP) in blast furnace-II of the factory around 9.30 am on November 13. The slag pipes connected to the blast furnace were gutted and slags piled up over 300 metre after the explosion. A huge flame swept through the unit, witnesses said.
The blast furnace where the fire took place was in the process of commissioning for the past three days.
Unconfirmed reports, however, indicated that more than 20 labourers who were at work, were killed in the fire.
Company sources said presence of water inside the SGP could have led to the blast, which triggered serious panic and labour unrest in the area.
Workers, however, blamed lack of safety measures for the tragedy. “We are scared to work here,” said general secretary, Bhushan Sramika Sabha, Pabitra Biswal. Angry labourers demonstrated in front of the company’s main gate and also blocked the National Highway.
The 3-MTPA facility of Bhushan Steel has a reputation of being accident-prone with over 40 deaths alleged in the last four years.
On the basis of an inspection report of a four-member team of the Factory and Boiler Directorate, the district administration has sealed the new blast furnace area of the steel plant at Meramunduli.
The CEO of Bhushan Steel Ltd and two other company executives were arrested yesterday (November 14). The two others are shift in-charge at the blast furnace Navin Tyagi and project president Mahipal Singh.They were forwarded to Hindol SDJM court, which remanded them in judicial custody.
In another separate incident at the Tata Steel unit of Jamshedpur, 11 people, including six contract labourers of Tata Steel were injured following an explosion in the LD gas holder inside its factory on Thursday (14 November).
Three of the injured were out of danger and the rest were admitted to the Tata Main Hospital. One of the seriously injured employees has been shifted to the Critical Care Unit of the hospital.
The explosion occurred at around 3.30 pm yesterday in the LD-2 gas holder which has a capacity of 83,000 cubic meters. The gas holder had a mix of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen that exploded and the loud sound caused a panic among workers; who rushed for safety. A roof of the gas holder was badly damaged under the impact of the explosion.
Following the impact of the explosion, fire broke out in the adjoining gas pipeline. Six fire tenders were rushed to put off the flames.
The explosion might have been caused due to a short-circuit, suggested some senior company officials. However an inquiry has been initiated by the company.
This may be a learning lesson for all the employees of Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) and Alloy Steel Plant (ASP) and have a re-check of the safety measures at different units of the plant.