Home Dehradun Magisterial inquiry blames STP operating company for Chamoli incident

Magisterial inquiry blames STP operating company for Chamoli incident

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By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 29 Jul: Chamoli DM, Himanshu Khurana, was handed over the magisterial inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami in respect of Chamoli incident, where 16 persons had died because of electrocution. The magisterial inquiry has been conducted by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Dr Abhishek Tripathi, who today submitted his inquiry report to the District Magistrate. The incident of electrocution had occurred on 19 July due to spread of current at the STP Plant in district Chamoli and as a result, 16 people had died. The inquiry report points to several glaring acts of negligence. The report blames the company which was operating the STP for ignoring the mandatory safety measures and not deploying them at the plant and the report is clear that non deployment of safety measures at the plant led to the accident.

Himanshu Khurana

The report has been prepared after studying many facts and recording statements of at least 39 persons related to the incident. In the report the investigating officer, Dr Abhishek Tripathi has recommended strict departmental action against the company  which was operating the STP plant and the management officials. The report squarely blames the company operating the STP for the incident. Of course, the report also points out towards negligence of the officials of the Jal Sansthan and the Electricity Department in not enforcing the safety measures at the plant.

In all, 39 statements have been recorded in the report. It may be recalled that 16 people had died and 11 others were confirmed injured due to electrocution in the sewage treatment plant being operated under Namami Gange Scheme in district Chamoli. In the report, analysis of the accident, the possible causes and conclusions have also been drawn.
In the report, the electrical arrangements of the STP plant were found to be non-compliant with the contract and electrical safety standards. Short circuit occurred in the change over panel and severe earthing fault occurred in the control panel and main panel. Due to non-availability of proper earthing in the prescribed route, the current spread in the metallic structure connected to the earth connection, in which the stairs and railings constructed for entering the plant were fitted.
 As a result the people present, who were in contact with the iron structure railing mesh, got electrocuted and died, while several people got injured.
The report further points out that for electrical safety, Moulded Case Circuit Breaker (MCCB) of proper capacity with MC Junction Box should have been installed adjacent to the meter, but all this  necessary safety equipment was missing and instead of this equipment a change-over arrangement was being used. Earthing at STP premises was not found as per the norms. The value for earthing was found to be more than the norms. In such a situation, due to short circuit, instead of earthing, the current flowed into the iron structure and iron railing of the STP.
Yet another reason pointed out in the report was lack of monitoring/review of the works done by the contracted firm, lack of mutual coordination between the personnel of Electricity Department and the Jal Sansthan. In addition, the road leading to the STP plant was found to be very narrow which increased the risk.
The establishment, department and personnel responsible for the accident have also been mentioned in the investigation report. The company operating the STP plant is a joint venture form M/s Jai Bhushan Malik Contractors from Patiala as leading partner and M/s Confident Engineering India Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore as junior partner along with Uttarakhand Peyjal Nigam/Jal Sansthan. It has also been found that the number of personnel required to be deployed as per the contract had not been employed which was also in violation of the agreement.
The Regional Manager of the company Bhaskar Mahajan is currently imprisoned in district jail, while Jai Bhushan Malik of M/s Jai Bhushan Malik Contractors, Patiala and Ratna Kumar of M/s Confident Engineering India Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore have also been mentioned as persons responsible for the incident through their act of sheer negligence and  open violation of the norms and the contract conditions. So far 4 persons have been arrested but more arrests are likely in the case including some government officials who were negligent towards effectively monitoring the project.