Balco confirms 18 deaths, CITU fears over 100 deaths

Aluminium maker Balco on Thursday confirmed 18 deaths due to the collapse of its under construction chimney at its upcoming power plant in Korba in Chhattisgarh.

Updated: Sep 25, 2009, 00:31 AM IST

New Delhi: Aluminium maker Balco on Thursday
confirmed 18 deaths due to the collapse of its under
construction chimney at its upcoming power plant in Korba in

"As of now, there are 5 injured, who have been admitted
to our Balco hospital, and loss of 18 human lives have been
confirmed," Balco Chief Executive Officer Gunjan Gupta said in
a statement here.

However, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) fears
over 100 deaths in the accident and demanded action against
Balco management and even voiced for "re-nationalisation" of
the entity in which government holds 49 per cent stake.

The trade union also demanded compensation of Rs 15 lakh
to the families of the deceased and jobs to the dependents.
Balco has offered Rs 5 lakhs as compensation.

Balco chief that "all possible help" would be given to
the affected families.

Korba District Collector Ashok Agarwal said that around
300 labourers were working on an under construction chimney of
1,200-MW upcoming power plant of aluminium producer Balco,
which collapsed yesterday. The chimney was being constructed
by Gannon Dunkerley & Co (GDCL).

"Continuous heavy rains and lightening at Korba in the
past few days is understood to be a probable reason for this
incidence, however, the exact reasons for this incident would
be known only after the enquiry," Gupta added.

However, CITU blamed the collapse "to the use of inferior
quality of construction material and non-adherence to the
technological discipline.

"There is criminal negligence on the part of Sterlite (a
Vedanta group firm, which controls Balco) as well as the
construction company (GDCL) which resulted in such a massive
loss of life.

"...This is a man-made tragedy caused by mis-management
and indiscipline of Balco and Gannon Management. They deserve
severe punishment," CITU General Secretary Mohammed Amin said
in the statement.

Moreover, Gupta said the relief and rescue operations are
in full swing with the involvement of the company and the
government resources at the site of the accident.

Sterlite says rains, lightning caused accident

Sterlite Industries, a part of
Vedanta Group, today said "excessive rains and lightning" may
be a possible cause for the accident at Balco`s
under-construction power plant in Korba (Chhattisgarh), where
at least 20 workers were killed.

"A probable reason for the incident appears to be the
excessive rains and lightning at Korba," Sterlite Industries
said in a statement to the National Stock Exchange.

"The exact cause for this will, however, be ascertained
only after a detailed investigation is concluded," it further

Balco is a part of Vedanta Resources, a London listed
metals and mining major with aluminium, copper and zinc
operations in the UK, India and Australia.

CITU for nationalisation of BALCO

Holding the Sterlite Group
responsible for the chimney collapse incident, the Centre of
Indian Trade Unions today demanded that the BALCO should be
nationalised again and asked the Centre to give compensation
of Rs 15 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the accident.

The chimney collapsed due to the use of low quality
construction materials and management of Sterlite group, which
owns the BALCO, is responsible for that, General Secretary of
CITU`s Chhattisgarh unit B Sanyal said here.

As the central government owns 49 per cent shares of
BALCO, it should take steps to nationalise the company in the
wake of the accident, Sanyal said.

The mishap occurred in Korba district yesterday when the
chimney at the under-construction thermal power plant of
Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd caved in, killing 26 labourers on
job and injuring several others.

BALCO has sanctioned Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of
those killed in the accident.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi asked for
stringent action against those responsible for the mishap and
demanded the compensation of Rs 25 lakh each to kin of the

Advani expresses sympathy with victims

Leader of Opposition L K
Advani today expressed sympathy to the kin of victims and
those injured in the chimney collapse incident in Chhattisgarh
and hoped that the state government would do its best for the

"In this time of great sorrow, my heart goes out to
all those families who have lost their beloved and
bread-earners. My heartfelt sympathies to those who were
injured in this unfortunate incident," Advani said in a

Several workers people lost their lives and many were
injured in the incident in which the chimney of an
under-construction power plant of BALCO collapsed in Korba,

"It is gratifying to note that the Chief Minister of
Chhattisgarh has deputed one of his senior Ministers to visit
the site and oversee the rescue operations. I am sure the
state government will do all its best in this hour of need,"
he said.

Bureau Report