Just five directorate officials to inspect 3270 boilers in Uttar Pradesh

The number of boilers across various industries have increased exponentially but UP’s boiler directorate is woefully short of staff to carry out annual inspections.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2017 18:08 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP Boiler Directorate,Staff shortage,Boiler inspections
Smoke billows from NTPC's Unchahar power plant where a boiler exloded on November 1. The Uttar Pradesh boiler directorate was scheduled to inspect the boiler in December. (PTI)

There are only five officials in the Uttar Pradesh boiler directorate to inspect and certify 3270 boilers in various industries across the state and enforce provisions of half a dozen laws. That means a humanly impossible task of 654 boilers for each of these officials to inspect a year.

The staggering staff shortage now seems alarming in the background of last week’s boiler explosion at a unit of the NTPC’s power plant in Rae Bareli district which has killed 36 people so far.

The five officials in the entire directorate include two deputy directors and three assistant directors. One of the senior deputy directors is officiating as director since there has been no regular director for quite some time.

The directorate’s effective staff strength is less than the sanctioned strength which is already low at nine — a director, three deputy directors and five assistant directors. Insiders say the directorate’s sanctioned strength has remained same for decades though the number of boilers in the state is increasing. The directorate’s website says there are 3270 boilers in various industries in UP.

“It is not humanly possible for a staff of five people to carry out quality inspection of so many boilers and their accessories besides performing various other duties assigned to them under the half a dozen Acts and Rules,” sources at the directorate told HT.

“The department did send proposals on many occasions seeking an increase of the staff strength but the successive governments did not approve the same possibly to avoid a fresh induction of regular staff,” sources said.

Officiating director RK Purvey admitted to the shortage of staff but denied that there was any compromise on the quality of inspections.

“We do our job strictly in compliance with the law even if we have to be away from home for days inspecting boilers,” he claimed.

“Moreover, in June, the new government in the state allowed third-party inspection of boilers due to which much of the problem arising from the staff crunch has been taken care of,” Purvey said.

The boiler directorate functions under the labour department from the labour commissioner’s office in Kanpur. The budget earmarked for the boiler directorate for the current financial year is only Rs 1.29 crore which is largely for paying salaries.

Its staff is supposed to carry out regular inspection of boilers and related equipment in various industries, including thermal power plants.

Set up in 1915 by the British, the boiler directorate is also mandated to enforce thousands of provisions of at least six Acts and rules for the safe operation of boilers. These include the Indian Boilers Act, 1923, Indian Boiler Regulations, 1950, Uttar Pradesh Boiler Rules, 1969, Uttar Pradesh Economizers Rules, 1959, Boiler Engineer Rules, 2011 and Boiler Attendant Rules, 2011.

The directorate is recognised as an inspecting authority by the Central Boilers Board for the state of Uttar Pradesh assigning it the task of inspection at various states of manufacturing of boiler, boiler components, super heaters, economisers, valves, tubes, flanges, forgings and casting.

“Under the provisions of the Indian Boilers Act, 1923, it is the statutory requirement that every boiler owner should obtain a certificate authorising the use of the boiler. After it issues the certificate, the boiler directorate inspects the boiler at least once a year for the purpose of annual renewal of the certificate,” said sources.

“The renewal of the certificate of the NTPC’s ill-fated 500 MW unit in Unchahar was due in December,” the sources added.

The directorate’s official website defines a boiler as “a hazardous equipment which generates steam at high pressure at temperature and liable to explode under abnormal conditions.” It adds: “In case of an accident, there are always chance of loss of life of workmen and property of an industry.”

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 18:02 IST