Was there lack of compromise on safety factors by NTPC in the blast which killed 30 workers and about 70 workers have received serious burns who are fighting for their lives in the hospital?
While the entire country mourns for the loss of valuable lives and pray for the lives of those in the hospital, serious questions have been raised by All India Power Engineers Federation. A press report in the matter is quoted below:
Did the officials of NTPC compromised on the safety factors which resulted in the catastrophic incident where 30 workers, majority of them casual workers, lost their lives and 66 others received burns, some of them over 70 per cent, and struggling for their lives.
Questions are raised whether the unit 6 of the Unchahar Thermal Power plant was ready to start operation. Was the operation cleared by the competent authority or NTPC higher-ups forced the officials to start operation without giving a “cooling period” to the plant to settle down.
It is believed that this unit was made operational within 2 and a half years time while normally it takes a unit three and half to four years to start operation.
“Around 150-200 people were working in the boiler’s section at the time of accident is clear indication that work in the plant was not complete. In a running plant only 5-6 people work at a time at that section. Why so many people were working at that time?,” asks Shailendra Dubey, Chairman, All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) .
Safety factors should not be compromised at any cost in rush of running the power plant. The AIPEF has demanded a high level independent enquiry in the whole matter so that such type of incident may not occure in future, he said.
The blast was reportedly triggered in the duct connected to the boiler which is used for transferring ash of burnt coal. It is believed that the ash pipe got choked, causing the blast.
Apart from huge accumulation of ash in the furnace, the problem also got aggravated when the coal powder which was pumped into the furnace developed a `clinker formation’ .As workers were engaged to break the clinkers, the coal supply got disrupted. This disturbed the pressure which raised to +350 mmwc from normal pressure of +/-5 mmwc into the boiler which started vibrating before bursting from corner number 2.
The formation of coal clinkers often causes serious problem for smooth working of a power plant,’’ said Dubey. He said that the boiler has enormous pressure which needs to be maintained with smooth flow of coal.
Shailendra Dubey said that AIPEF will soon submit a memorandum to Central Power Minister R K Singh in this respect demanding strict adherence of safety measures in running the power plants.”