Two weeks after the chimney of under-construction 1200 MW power plant of Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd (Balco) collapsed in Korba, about 240 km north of Raipur, the Chhattisgarh police on Wednesday arrested a senior official of Gannon Dunkerley & Company Limited (GDCL) and produced him before the court. The official was later sent to jail on judicial remand for fourteen days.
"We have arrested a project manager of GDCL, Manoj Sharma, who is a project site incharge for chimney construction in Balco plant", the Korba district superintendent of police Ratanlal Dangi told Hindustan Times. It was the first arrest by the police after the mishap.
Sharma was arrested on charges of gross negligence and culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the SP informed. The chimney caved-in when it reached the height of 240 metres. Over forty-five persons died in the tragic incident.
Bagging the contract from Balco, the Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (Sepco) assigned the task to GDCL for construction of a 275-metre chimney for the power plant. According to the project officials the construction cost of the chimney was 44 crores
"It appears the GDCL had utilised inferior quality construction materials and violated the essential norms that should have been technically adhered to during the chimney construction" Dangi said.
The Sepco and GDCL officials fled the Korba city after the mishap on September 23. However, they were forced to return, as the police needed their presence during the investigation.
Meanwhile the police continued the interrogation of Chinese officials after procuring the documents related to the project from them. "More arrest is possible in the next few days", Dangi hinted as the interrogation proceeds.
The judicial probe announced by the Chhattisgarh government is yet to begin.