Government announces heavy compensation for NTPC victims, NHRC seeks probe into negligence

15 labourers were dead and over 100 were injured after the steam pipe of a boiler burst at the thermal power plant of National Thermal Power Corporation in Unchahar

20 persons were killed and over 100 injured when a pipe connected to a boiler exploded in the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) unit in Rae Bareli on Wednesday evening.

Soon after the accident occurred, the NTPC gates were closed and mediapersons were not allowed entry.

Questions have been raised about whether, having been aware of a problem, NTPC should have shut down the unit to prevent the deadly explosion.

Many workers were trapped when a fire erupted in the boiler and a huge ball of dust rose after the blast, making the rescue operations hard.

The company said the other units at the power station with a total capacity of 1,500 MW are running normally and enough capacity was available to make up for the loss of 500 MW generation. This creates steam which moves the turbines and generates electricity.

"In NTPC Unchahar, Unit No. 6 at around 1530 hrs on 01.11.2017 there was sudden abnormal sound at 20 mt. elevation and there was opening in corner no.2 from which hot flue gases and steam escaped affecting the people working around the area". The plant employs 870 workers, and it was not known how many were in the plant at the time of the explosion. The 500MW unit was still in trial phase, operating since April.

Colleagues of the mishap victims continued to stage a protest at the NTPC gate, even though district magistrate Sanjay Khatri tried to pacify the largely contract labourers.

NTPC officials investigating the incident said pressure inside the unit shot up 70 times its normal level in just a few minutes before the explosion, and an emergency shut-off mechanism that should have disabled the unit apparently failed to work.

The injured are being rushed to nearby hospitals, police have said. Senior officials, including medical teams, reached the site of the accident to supervise rescue operations.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has also announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of those killed and ₹50,000 for the grievously injured besides Rs 25,000 for the other injured workers. Rescue operations are continuing with the district administration.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi left the Gujarat tour mid-way and headed straight to his mother Sonia Gandhi's constituency Rai Bareli to be with the affected families. The government has ordered a magisterial probe into the tragedy.

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