Skip to main content

Mystery of missing persons: 150 workers "might have" died during Unchahar explosion in Uttar Pradesh

Workers at the power plant
By Sanjeev Kumar and Rajesh Kumar
The tearing hurry in commissioning the unit VI of Unchahar Thermal Power project, Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, violating all safety norms, is the key reason for the explosion at the project on November 1, a report released in Delhi at a function held on the International Human Rights Day (December 10) said.
Titled, “How Many Deaths Will It Take: A Preliminary Report on Unchahar Tragedy” it said that the number of deaths is underreported and migrant labourers with no formal training, nor safety gears, are forced to carry out critical operations of the project, and many migrant workers are still missing, and their whereabouts are not known to anyone.
Missing persons: Document on display
The 1,550 MW Feroze Gandhi Unchahar Thermal Power project, a coal-based power plant, met with an accident at its Unit VI, which was under construction, killing at least 46 and injuring many.
Most of the labourers suffered burns of 50-70%, and doctors are of the opinion that even if they recover from injury, they would be impaired for life, and the ones with very severe burns might not live more than three to four months, the report said.
Addressing a gathering at the release of the report release ceremony, Urmila, sister of Awadhesh Jaiswal, who died in the accident, said, “There are more deaths than what the authorities are claiming. At the time of accident over 300 labourers were working near the Unit VI. At least 150 people might have died in the accident, many of them burned and buried in the ash.”
Family member displays missing person's I-card
Prabit Purkayastha, a power engineer for the past four decades and an employee at thr National Thermal Power Corporation years back, said, had basic safety procedures been followed, this accident would not have happened.
“Haste to complete the project ahead to schedule, ignoring basic norms, and criminal negligence towards safety procedures led to this ghastly incident,” he said. "The cost of unbridled development is that human lives are devalued and failure to hold authorities accountable in accidents like the one at Unchahar promotes more such accidents", he complained.
A member of the enquiry team, Awadhesh Kumar said that since most the labourers are migrant labourers from different states, they are employed through a contractor, and there are no records available on the details of them.
“We met many family members who were searching for their dear ones, who were working at the plant. Neither could they find them, nor the authorities are helping them find the missing people", he said, even narrating reported incidents of labour law violations at the plant.
The power plant
“What one is witnessing in Unchahar is not an isolated case. The plight of workers in all these development projects are the same - their rights are not recognised, their safety is not the concern of the project owner, nor the government carry out inspections and take adequate steps to protect the labourers,” Roma from the New Trade Union Initiative said.
Senior Congress party functionary Chandrakant Dubey, AK Jain of the All India Power Engineers Federation, Ashok Chowdhury of the All-India Union of Forest Working People, and Sreedhar Ramamurthi of the Mines, Mineral and People attended the report release function.
The report, published by Delhi Solidarity Group, recommended a judicial enquiry into the accident to investigate it thoroughly and to fix responsibility on the ones who erred.
It also recommended that the government should immediately constitute a task force to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing persons, provide adequate compensation and recommended that the Ministry of Power should carry out an audit of all coal power plants to ascertain the state of workers, adherence to safety measures and preparedness for emergencies.
---
Download the report HERE

Comments

TRENDING

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.

'First time' since 1970s poverty up 10%, consumer spending down 4%: GoI survey

By Our Representative
In what may prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government of India (GoI), a new official survey, carried out in 207-18, has reportedly said that average consumer spending in India fell by more than 4% the previous six years "primarily driven by slackening rural demand." The survey, "Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India”, carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), says that money spent per person in a month fell by 3.7% from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

National award winning film 'Hellaro' co-produced by three chartered accountants

By Our Representative
“Hellaro”, a Gujarati feature film produced by Saarthi Productions in association with Harfanmaula Films (Ahmedabad) was declared as the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards which was conferred by the Government of India. The film also won the Special Jury Award for the Best Actress to all the 13 actresses of the film.
Ashish Patel produced the movie, which has been co-produced three co-producers, Aayush Patel, Prateek Gupta and Mit Jani, all of whom, interestingly, started their filmmaking journey after becoming Chartered Accountants in 2012.
“Hellaro” is directed by Abhishek Shah, who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films.
“Hellaro” is a period drama based in Kutch and has been co-written by Abhishek Shah and Prateek Gupta. Gupta previously received the Best Debut Director Award, along with Mit Jan…