Skip to main content

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

NTPC’s Vallur Thermal Power Station, Tamil Nadu
Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”
“Starting with thermal power, over the years it expanded its foray into gas, hydro, nuclear and even renewable energy sources, apart from coal mining, making it the largest company in the field, one among the top five power utilities in the world, and one meeting near to a quarter of India’s current power needs. However, all these came at a heavy cost to people and environment”, the report insists.
It adds, “Be it forced evictions without rehabilitation, destruction of forests and other natural resources, pollution, health hazards to people living in the vicinity, ground water contamination, dumping of toxic wastes, issues related to disposal of ash and many such.”
The report further says, “While there has been some documentation of individual projects and its impacts, or instances of police atrocities on people who are struggling against NTPC projects as in the case of Hazaribagh, or lapses in safety norms as in the case of Unchahar project which led to the killing of many labourers, a compilation of instances of gross violation of human rights and law of the land pertaining to land acquisition, forests, water contamination and many such is missing.”

Excerpts from the report’s section “Labour struggles/accidents”:

Even though NTPC has been accorded ‘Maharatna’ status by the Government of India, NTPC has shown a poor track record when it comes to safety of its workers, whether permanent workers or those working on a contractual basis. The Unchahar accident in November 2017 exposed a major negligence on the part of NTPC, but it was not an isolated case. There have been multiple instances of accidents inside NTPC power plants which have led to severe injuries to workers and even death in some cases. Even, NTPC has not paid compensation properly in case of death of workers inside its plants. Given below are several instances of accidents at NTPC’s plants and raises questions on how seriously the workers’ safety is valued by NTPC:
• NTPC owned Feroze Gandhi Unchahar Thermal Power Plant located in Unchahar town in Raebareli district of Uttar Pradesh witnessed one of the worst industrial disasters in India in November 2017, when a boiler exploded in the latest Unit 6 of the 1550 MW power plant. The power plant had started generating power in 1988 with five units of 210 MW each. The Unit 6 had a capacity of 500 MW and had started operating in March 2017. Due to the explosion, a massive fire had broken out and a huge ball of dust rose after the explosion, making rescue operations difficult. When the initial numbers came, 22 people were killed and dozens had suffered injuries in the boiler blast.
An eyewitness account by an officer mentioned that at least 70 people were killed in the tragedy. By November 10, news agency IANS mentioned that the death toll in the accident had reached 43. While the NTPC officials denied that there was any rush in commissioning the plant, NTPC insiders and power sector experts with knowledge of Unchahar plant have raised serious questions about the process of commissioning the plant.
• A major fire erupted at Vallur Thermal Power Plant in June 2017, located in Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. The thermal power plant is operated by NTPC Tamil Nadu Energy Company Limited, a joint venture between the NTPC Limited and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco). The plant has an installed capacity of 1,500 MW. The fire broke out after the turbine from where the power is generated was burst in the third unit. According to the NTPC officials it took six fire tenders to douse the fire in two hours. NTPC officials said that there was no casualty in the accident. However, such accidents raise concerns about the safety of the workers working inside the power plant.
• According to a news report in ‘DNA’, from February 2017, NTPC workers clashed with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at the site of an under-construction plant of NTPC in Lara village in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district. This clash led to firing in the air and stone-pelting from the workers’ side. Members of NTPC Theka Mazdoor Sangh (contractual workers’ union) staged the protest outside the plant site and prevented other workers from going in. The reason for this protest was the death of a labourer called Hemram Yadav who was killed in an accident at the site. The contractual workers union complained that it was not involved in the talks with NTPC when the compensation for Hemram was decided and it demanded a higher compensation for his family.
• In October 2016, three contract labourers were crushed to death when a 100 tonne girder fell on them in the upcoming NTPC Solapur Power Plant in Maharashtra. NTPC had mentioned that these labourers belonged to another company, Power Mech Projects Ltd, which had been entrusted with the task of constructing the power plant along with two other companies.
• In an unfortunate incident, two workers were killed inside the Coal Handling Plant (CHP) of NTPC’s Kahalgaon Super Thermal Power Project in August 2016. The Kahalgaon Power Plant has a capacity of 2,340 MW. The accident happened when the conveyor belt of CHP developed a snag and started moving in reverse direction due to which huge piles of coal on the workers. Both these workers were contract workers on the payroll of Chanda Construction Company. NTPC had alleged negligence on the part of the outsourced Chanda Construction Company and had said that an FIR would be lodged against the company if the probe established that.
• In October 2015, two labourers were seriously injured in an explosion at the coal-holding section of the NTPC Korba Power Plant. The two labourers injured were working as contractual labourers for Priya Tech Company. A suspected detonator was found in the consignment of coal supplied by South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) Gevra Mines. A police investigation was going on as how a detonator from coal mines landed in the consignment. Such an incident highlights that labour safety is not given paramount importance in NTPC’s premises.
• NTPC’s Farakka Unit in West Bengal faced a major labour unrest in June 2015, where the state administration’s intervention was required to restore normalcy. There was a major concern regarding power outage when NTPC shot letters to the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand governments, saying that power generation may get affected as few units would have to be shut down due to labour unrest. 
The unrest had started a month before following the death of a worker, where NTPC agreed to pay a sum of Rs 4 lakh after a group of workers protested with the management. This led to a group of around 3,000 contractual workers to demand incremental salary and other benefits. However, NTPC claimed it to be a non-recognized group. After West Bengal power department took note of the matter, it instructed the local administration to smoothen out things, which led to the arrest of several leaders of the group, who were later released on bail. 
• Eight people including two engineers and six contract workers got injured at NTPC Korba plant in Chhattisgarh in August 2014, when there was a sudden release of ash during the cleaning of ash from a boiler. All the victims reportedly suffered burns with one of the workers sustaining 60-65% burns.
---
Download report HERE 

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Women, business, law: India scores worst among all BRICS, several African nations

By Rajiv Shah
A new World Bank report ranks India 125th in its Women, Business and the Law (WBL) index among 187 economies it seeks to analyse across the globe. The report's main aim claims to be to "gain new insight into how women’s employment and entrepreneurship choices are affected by legal gender discrimination. On a scale of 100, India's score is 71.25, worse than the global average of 74.71.