Casualty picture still unclear as 5 foreign engineers at Bhushan plant missing


Bhubaneswar: Amid apprehensions that some workers might have been buried beneath debris following a major explosion at the plant of Bhushan Steel Ltd (BSL) in Dhenkanal district on November 13, State Labour Minister Bijayashree Routray today revealed five foreign engineers, who were present at the mishap site, are missing.

“We have learnt that five foreign engineers – three from China and two from Thailand – were present during commissioning of blast furnace-II (where a major explosion took place) at the BSL plant. No information regarding their whereabouts has been obtained so far,” Routray said.

Substantiating the growing resentment against the BSL, the Minister took a strong exception to the labour management practices carried out at the plant.

“The company’s mechanism of employing labourers appears to be full with flaws,” Routray said.

Meanwhile, a team of experts from Rourkela Steel Plant today undertook a through probe at the plant to find out the reasons behind the blast, which, according to the latest figures, killed one worker and left 19 others injured.

Labour Commissioner Shalini Pandit, who is stationed at the plant from Friday, pored over various records for the second day to determine the accurate figure of workers present in the unit on the day of blast.

Muster rolls, biometric data of labourers are being examined to elicit details on their number and identity.

Pandit also expressed displeasure over the company’s labour management system and said, “Their (BSL) records regarding recruitment workers are not clear and transparent.”

On the other hand, worried family members of many “missing” workers from the locality, who gathered at the plant today, were seen crying and praying for the safety of their loved ones even as forensic team found a few body parts from the rubble.

Moreover, various political parties today stepped up protest against the company. While BJP staged demonstrations in front of the plant, CPM demanded arrest of the owner of the company, an ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh for the family of the deceased and a job to one of his family members.

Notably, the State Government on Friday asked the Directorate of Factories and Boilers to prepare a comprehensive report on the condition of blast furnace-I of the company.

Blast furnace-II has been sealed following the incident.

The Odisha State Pollution Control Board has also decided to file a case against the BSL for commissioning the second blast furnace without its prior consent.

Three top executive of the BSL including its chief operating officer have been arrested and sent to jail on charges of negligence in ensuring safety of the blast furnace while commissioning the system.

The district administration has formed a team comprising magistrate, police, officials of Pollution Control Board and Employee’s State Insurance Corporation to examine the security measures taken by different companies in the district including the BSL.

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