People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 39

September 27, 2009

DISASTROUS BALCO ACCIDENT

 

CITU Demands Action against Management, Renationalisation

 

AT about 3:45 p m on September 23, a huge concrete chimney of nearly 200 metres height, being built at the site of the new power plant for Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO), the aluminium plant run by the Sterlite company, came crashing down. More than a hundred workers, then working on the scaffoldings inside and outside the chimney wall and on the ground, had had no chance to escape and are feared to have perished.

Reacting to this tragedy through a statement issued on September 24, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions said there was absolutely no doubt that the use of inferior quality construction material and non-adherence to technological discipline were the causes of the accident. There was criminal negligence on the part of the Sterlite management as well as the construction company, Gannon Dunkerley, which resulted in such a massive loss of life. The CITU union in the BALCO, which is based at Raipur in Chhattisgarh, has all along been pointing out to the management about the inferior quality material being used and the undue haste with which the chimney was being constructed. The statement issued by CITU general secretary Mohd Amin said the Sterlite management is equally responsible for forcing a faster pace of construction in violation of the safety norms.

The CITU has demanded that all the people responsible for this disaster must be brought to book, each victim´┐Żs family must be paid Rs 15 lakh as compensation, and jobs must be provided to dependents of the dead and disabled.

Recalling that the public sector BALCO was sold out to a private player a few years back, in undue hurry and in a most shady manner, the CITU has also demanded that the central government must renationalise the BALCO in view of the mismanagement and illegal activities of the Sterlite group. As the centre still has 49 per cent of its shares, nationalisation of BALCO is within the right of the government of India in the present circumstances.

Terming it as a man-made tragedy caused by mismanagement and indiscipline of the BALCO and Gannon managements, the CITU said they deserve severe punishment. It also stressed that the workers and people must remain vigilant to see that the Sterlite management is not able to cover up the number of casualties with the help of the Chhattisgarh state administration.