NTPC Plant blast: The death toll in the NTPC plant in Unchahar in Rae Bareli has risen to 29. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi went to the accident site and demanded a judicial probe. Notably, Union Power Minister R K Singh also arrived at the site to oversee relief measures in what is one of the worst tragedies at a power plant in recent history, and even came face to face with Rahul Gandhi at one point. Singh announced Rs 20 lakh ex-gratia for the next of kin of those killed in the accident at the Unchahar plant in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli. The Central Government has also ordered a probe by the NTPC’s executive director into the incident, while the state administration ordered a magisterial probe.
It has been learnt that the site of the accident at NTPC Ltd indicates that safety norms were violated. The reports point to a practice that is regularly resorted to across coal-fired plants in the country, according to Indian Express report.
According to the report, the practice involves de-choking the bottom hopper — the funnel-shaped bottom end of the boiler — by using rods to push out ash clinkers while the boiler is in operation, in violation of safety norms. On Wednesday, this exercise seems to have gone horribly wrong at Unchahar.
According to information gathered from multiple sources, the Unchahar 500 MW Unit No. 6 was running at a load of around 200 MW at 1536 hours on Wednesday.
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Sources said the bottom hopper de-ashing was being done by opening the manhole door at around 10 metres height on the boiler platform, by an NTPC operations and maintenance team. The boiler was in manual mode of operation then, IE reported.
Suddenly, the furnace pressure increased and hot clinkers of ash fell in a splash, injuring those in the vicinity. This was reportedly followed by a blast due to the increase in pressure, resulting in the release of flue gas at very high temperature from a duct at 20 metres height in the boiler, which caused the burns and casualties.