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3:21 pm - Saturday March 18, 3284

Boiler explodes at NTCP Unchahar unit; 25 killed 200 injured

Agencies, Rae Bareli

At least 25 people were killed and around 200 were injured when a boiler at a new unit of NTPC’s Feroz Gandhi Unchahar Thermal power station exploded on Wednesday.

Police sources said the boiler tube of the newly commissioned sixth unit of 500 MW exploded leading to the incident.  Chief Medical Officer, Rae Bareli, KK Singh confirmed that 25 people have been killed in this accident so far.

He said that the death toll could increase further as a couple of bodies are still lying inside the power plant. “Over 50 injured were being treated at the district hospital in Rae Bareli, while around 20 have been rushed to Lucknow,” the CMO said. However, eye-witnesses claim that the death toll could be high as 45.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is the local MP, is expected to visit the spot tomorrow morning and will also meet the family members of the deceased and the injured at the hospital. She has condoled the deaths in the incidents and has asked the Congress leaders to reach Rae Bareli to undertake relief and rescue operation.

AICC general secretary and leader of the opposition in the Rajhya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad, along with party’s UP president Raj Babbar, are also reaching Rae Bareli tomorrow.

A senior NTPC official told UNI here tonight that,” Uchahar’s unit six was running at load of 200MW at 15:36 hrs. Bottom ash hopper deashing was being done by opening of manhole door at 10 m by NTPC engineers and others. Due to this, suddenly the furnace pressure increased to more than +350 mmwc. The serious injuries to people has occurred due to hot ash.”

District Magistrate (DM) of Rae Bareli Sanjay Khatri said here tonight that the explosion took place in the ash-pipe due to excess pressure. “This is not clear as how many workers were working near the ash pipe at that time but initial report says that plant was working at a full steam,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Ajay Agarwal has demanded a judicial probe into the incident .

The unit, set up by the state-run BHEL and NTPC, was yet to start its commercial operation and was on a trial run when this accident took place.

The victims were mostly contractual workers engaged in construction work of the boiler.

According to an eye witness, a big explosion rocked the campus with black smoke engulfing the unit. There were around 1000 worker working in the power plant at the time of the incident.

“The toll may go up and preliminary reports suggest that many workers had received burns and are in serious condition. Over dozen seriously injured workers have been rushed to SGPGI in Lucknow, while others have been admitted to district hospital,” officials at the state police headquarters in Lucknow said.

Most of the deceased were burnt alive and they could not be identified. Among the critically injured there are three AGM rank officials of the NTPC, who have been identified as Sanjeev Sharma, Prabhat Srivastava and Mishrilal.

Some of the injured have been rushed to Lucknow, while others admitted to the district hospital in Rae Bareli. A team of 36 NDRF sleuths have also rushed to the spot to speed up the rescue work, state Principal Secretary Home Arvind Kumar said.

He also said that state Urban Development Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna was on the spot to monitor the rescue and relief work. Another minister Swami Prasad Maurya too has reached the spot too.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is in Mauritius, took cognizance of the accident and directed Principal Secretary Home Arvind Kumar to ensure all steps were taken for rescue and relief.

Mr Adityanath expressed condolence and announced Rs 2 lakhs compensation for the family of those workers who died. Besides Rs 50,000 would be given for the grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for other injured workers.

Unchahar comes under Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Relatives of the workers thronged the main gate of the NTPC plant, while the CISF have sealed off the area.

This unit was commissioned in April this year. The plant has five other generating units of 210 MW each. The total installed capacity of the plant is 1,550 MW.

This was the second such incident in the thermal power plant in the state. In 2010, the chimney of the under construction power plant at Jhansi collapsed leading to death of over 10 people.

Posted in: Featured, Nation

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