Five months after fire at hydel project, probe finds safety lapses

  • Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Jun 10, 2015 20:51 IST

Five months after a major fire destroyed machinery in the 120 megawatt Sanjay Jalvidyut Pariyojana, Asia’s first underground hydel project in Bhawanagar in Kinnaur district, the high-level committee constituted by the state government to ascertain the cause behind the fire has pointed out towards lapses that resulted in monetary loss.

“I have received the report and am yet to analyse it. But action will be taken against the erring officials once I go through the report,” said SKBS Negi, principal secretary, multi-purpose power project, told HT

Dissatisfied with the findings of the earlier probe, Negi had asked the energy department to conduct the inquiry again.

“The latest probe has found that the fire hydrant system established on the premises of the project was non-functional since it was damaged in a landslide in 2007. But it was never repaired. Besides, the system set-up to douse flames was not functional,” Negi said. The report indicated that the fire could have been controlled had the fire hydrants been functional.

Following the fire in January that caused loss worth crores, the state government in February constituted a committee headed by Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) director MS Rana and directorate of energy chief engineer Neeraj Kapoor.

In April, the panel submitted its exhaustive report but the government did not accept it stating that it had failed to fix the accountability for the major fire incident.

In an independent report submitted to the Kinnaur deputy commissioner on February 13, Nichar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Neelam Dulta had exposed the chinks in the fire mitigation system. The report found that a machine-emulsifier was out of order since 2007 and was not connected to the water supply that exacerbated the loss. The report was later submitted to divisional commissioner Shimla.

The departmental and magisterial inquiries had also failed to fix the accountability, though a final report of the magisterial probe is pending for want of forensic report.

Before the departmental inquiry concluded, the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEBL) had suspended superintending engineer, generation, Manish Singhal and executive engineer Vimal Negi.

The HPSEBL chairman and managing director (CMD), PC Negi, said the suspensions were still in effect, as the government probe was on, adding, “We want to resume the power generation as soon as possible as we are losing around 600,000 units daily,” he said.

However, sources said the loss was in crores. “The department is stating a Rs 10-crore loss, but the loss including that due to halting of power generation and damage to equipment is much more,” they said.

It had taken the fire fighters 26 hours to control the fire that damaged the 10 MVA transformer completely, besides gutting other equipment inside the power house.


January 22: Fire at Sanjay Jalvidyut Pariyojana

January 23: Fire doused; magisterial probe ordered

January 24: State electricity board probe starts

January 28: Two senior engineers of electricity board suspended

February: Government constitutes panel for probe

February 13: Magisterial report submitted

April second week: Government’s panel submits report

April third week: Government asks panel to re-investigate the matter

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