Fatal Indian steel factory blasts highlight sector’s poor safety record
08 August 2014
An explosion inside a blast furnace at the Gallant Ispat Ltd plant in Sahjanwa, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, killed one person and injured three others on August 6. According to local reports, an explosion in a furnace engulfed one worker operating a hydraulic machine inside the factory and burned three others nearby.
A company human resources manager said the deceased was working on a machine when molten iron spilled over the group.
Meanwhile, Bhushan Steel’s Orissa plant has also found itself in the dock for labour and safety violations following an explosion last November when three of its workers were killed and 29 injured in an explosion while commissioning a slag granulation plant.
The company operates a 3-million-tonne per annum steel plant in Meramundali in the Dhenkanal district of Orissa.
The plant did not have the ‘Consent To Operate’ certificate from the Orissa State Pollution Control Board and police arrested the company’s CEO and other officials after the incident. Last December, the Orissa government conceded in the state assembly that Bhushan Steel neither followed safety norms in commissioning its facilities nor had it deployed trained personnel to do so, which had resulted in the accident.
During the past nine years, the state’s directorate of factories and boilers registered a number of cases against the company management for violating safety norms under Orissa industrial legislation.
The state is now seeking to arraign the vice chairman and MD of Bhushan Steel in connection with cases arising from the incident and other outstanding legal breaches.
The fatality rate in the Indian steel sector is one the highest in the world, around 50 a year on average according to Delhi-based environmental NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), with hundreds more seriously injured.
An accident at the Bhilai Steel plant, Chhattisgarh, in June claimed six lives and injured over 30 people.