Chhattisgarh suspends official for Balco accident

Raipur, Nov 19 ( The Chhattisgarh government Thursday suspended a labour department official in connection with the Sep 23 collapse of an under-construction chimney at a Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) power plant in which at least 41 people were killed.

“The deputy director, Rajju Bhoi, has been suspended with immediate effect for dereliction of government duty in the aftermath of the power plant chimney crash,” a government statement read.

As many as 41 disfigured bodies of contracted workers were retrieved from the crash site at Korba, about 250 km from here, where the Balco power plant is coming up. Dozens of people engaged in the construction work are still missing.

Three days ago, on Nov 16, police arrested Balco vice president Viral Mehta, who was also project manager of the power plant, and two other officials attached with the project — associate general manager Deepak Narang and trainee engineer Anup Mahapatra.

The state government has already ordered a judicial probe. A single-member judicial commission of Sandeep Bakhshi, the district and sessions court judge here, has begun investigating the tragedy.

Vedanta Resources Plc-controlled Balco, in which the Indian government holds a 49 percent stake, had awarded a Chinese firm, Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO), the task of constructing two thermal power plants of 600 MW each at Korba.

Later, SEPCO outsourced the work of the construction of the 257-metre chimney to Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL).