Trade union demands probe into fire, jobs for dependents of victims

The recent fire at Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd's Vizag Steel (Visakhapatnam Steel Plant), which claimed the lives of 15 employees , was waiting to happen, said the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE).

Calling for the setting up of a regulatory body to supervise, enforce, train, enhance disclosure and improve the overall safety performance of the steel sector, the CSE said its recent green ratings for Indian steel majors had drawn the attention of Vizag Steel to its abysmal safety record.

It also called for strengthening of the existing laws of the 1948 Factories Act under which steel industry safety was being currently regulated.

“The latest accident at Vizag Steel is symptomatic of the overall safety and health situation in the Indian steel industry,” Mr Chandra Bhushan, CSE's Deputy Director-General, said in a release. CSE's recent Green Rating Project had found that over 144 people had died during 2007-2010 in 17 of the 21 steel plants that were surveyed.

“Poor occupational safety management system was found as a clear area of concern,” it said.

CITU writes LETTER

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has sought a thorough probe into the tragedy and adequate compensation for those who lost their lives in the Vizag Steel plant fire.

It also urged RINL to ensure employment to dependents of those who had died or had become invalid after the furnace explosion.

In a letter to Mr A. P. Chaudhary, the company's Chairman & Managing Director, the CITU General Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Tapan Sen, said around 40 days back, two persons had died at the time of commissioning of the third blast furnace.

Demanding a probe, he said, “I have been told the thickness of the newly constructed oxygen pipeline where the accident occurred this time is thinner than the earlier ones and the design is also different… that also may be apprehended as one of the factors behind the explosion.”

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 16, 2012)
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