NHRC issued notices to the Secretary, Ministry of Steel, Government of India, and the Chairman, Steel Authority of India Limited over several deaths in SAIL's Bhilai Steel Plant (11.10.2018)


New Delhi, 11th October, 2018

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that in a major industrial accident, nine workers were killed and 14 others injured following a blast in a gas pipeline during a "scheduled maintenance job at Steal Authority of India, SAIL's flagship Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh on the 9th October, 2018. Reportedly, according to Chhattisgarh Police, the death toll may rise as the condition of some of the injured is very serious.

The Commission has issued notices to the Secretary, Ministry of Steel, Government of India, New Delhi and the Chairman, Steel Authority of India Limited, New Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter including the steps taken for relief and rehabilitation to the aggrieved families, treatment of the injured along with the report of inquiry, if ordered in the matter. The Commission would also like to know as to what steps have been taken to ensure that such accident do not recur in future.

Apart from this, The Superintendent of Police, Durg, Chhattisgarh has been directed to inform about the details of the FIR registered in the matter and present status of the investigation. The response from the authorities is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, and there was negligence on the part of the authorities, this is a case of violation of Right to Life of the victim workers. The Steel Authority of India is a Government of India undertaking. Occurrence of such a fatal accident at their reputed steel plant in which 9 people have lost their lives and several got injured, is a matter of concern for the Commission. The Commission is pained to know that in spite of being all the precautionary measures available the unfortunate incident has taken place causing irrevocable loss of lives.

According to the media reports, carried on the 10th October, 2018, the unfortunate incident occurred during maintenance work which was being carried out by the Energy Management Department. There was a fire in gas pipeline on gas Coke Oven Battery Complex 11 during a scheduled maintenance job. Some persons working at the site sustained burn injuries who were rushed to the BSP Hospital for medical treatment. Nine persons have lost their lives and 14 are undergoing medical treatment. The rescue operations were carried out and all resources have been mobilized to provide adequate care to the injured persons.

Reportedly, the maintenance work itself is a highly volatile process and it is clear that something went wrong during the process. There were 23 people reportedly working near the pipeline at the time of the blast. The police authorities, as mentioned, have stated that inquest proceedings have been completed and a case u/s 304A IPC will be registered.