New Delhi: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) will ask Vedanta Resources Plc-controlled Bharat Aluminium Co. Ltd (Balco) to submit a report on the chimney collapse at its project in Korba, Chhattisgarh.
The accident on Wednesday has so far claimed 18 lives, according to a Balco statement.
Chinese power generation equipment maker Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp. (Sepco) was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 1,200MW power project. Sepco had, in turn, outsourced the chimney construction work to New Delhi-based Gannon Dunkerley and Co. Ltd.
“This is a private sector project and we will ask for a report from Balco,” said Rakesh Nath, chairman, CEA, India’s apex power sector planning body.
Balco’s chief executive Gunjan Gupta blamed heavy rains and lightning at Korba but said in the statement that the specific reasons for this incident would be known only after an inquiry.
It was unclear if any of those missing were still alive after the Wednesday accident. Rescuers are using cranes and saws to clear the mound of rubble consisting of big chunks of concrete slabs and twisted steel, said Vishwa Ranjan, director general of police in Chhattisgarh.
The CEA decision on Thursday follows a judicial inquiry ordered by Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, who has also asked for filing a first information report with the police against the Balco management.
Questions emailed to billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources, Sepco and Gannon Dunkerley on Thursday remained unanswered.
Questions have been already asked about Chinese power generation equipment manufacturers in India. Mint reported on 16 October about a CEA audit of Chinese equipment, raising questions about the operation and maintenance of such equipment, the lack of a quality plan and the insufficient number of Chinese engineers at site locations.
Several Indian power project developers have placed orders with Chinese firms such as Dongfang Electric Corp. Ltd, Shanghai Electric Power Co. Ltd and Harbin Power Equipment Co. Ltd, on account of the inability of local manufacturers to meet growing demand for equipment in India.
The CEA survey was conducted at the behest of state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, which competes with Chinese firms.
Some power plants that have used Chinese equipment have run into trouble. For instance, a turbine supplied by Dongfang Electric for the West Bengal Power Development Corp. Ltd’s 300MW Sagardighi project failed.
However, analysts don’t agree with these concerns. “I do not see this development as a threat to Chinese equipment manufacturers. We rather need the Chinese till we ramp up domestic manufacturing capacities,” said Madanagopal R., an equity research analyst at Mumbai-based Centrum Broking Pvt. Ltd.
PTI and AP contributed to this story.