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OSPCB’s nod to Bhushan blast furnace raises questions


Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar/ Dhenkanal, April 24:

Even as two cases were slapped on the Bhushan Steel MD for violation of green laws today by the Dhenkanal collector, the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) said it has accorded green signal to the Bhusan steel to start the blast furnace-II in its Meramandali plant in Dhenkanal district, which was closed following the public outrage over an accident during the trial run that killed two persons and injured several others.Orissa State Pollution Control board

“We have given the consent to operate to the steel plant and the blast furnace after it met the pollution control norms. Now it can operate the blast furnace,” said Rajiv Kumar, member secretary of OSPCB.

He, however, refused to comment on whether the blast furnace had met the safety norms or not by saying it is an issue that concerns the Directorate of Factories and Boilers.

On the other hand,  Purna Chandra Das, director of Factories and Boilers (DF&B)said they have given the go-ahead to the company to operate the furnace after Pollution Control Board accorded its consent to operate the plant.

“We have given approval to operate the blast furnace after it met the safety norms. The approval was granted after the OSPCB gave consent to operate,” said Das.

Bhusan Steel has mentioned in its BombayStock Exchange (BSE) filing that it has received all the necessary consents and approvals from the State Pollution Control Board, Odisha, for starting and operating the blast furnace No 2 installed at its steel plant.

The OSPCB in last November had directed closure of the blast furnace till further order, following an explosion that happened in the slag pit during the fourth day of trial run on November 10.

The accident was only one of the dozens of  mishaps in the Bhushan plant  that have claimed nearly a hundred lives and caused injuries to many of its workers.

“The company has started the process of operation of blast furnace No 2 and the production from the furnace is expected to start in few weeks,” Bhushan Steel said.

The state Directorate of Factories and Broilers had sealed the blast furnace number-2 of Bhushan Steel (BSL) plant and three top officials of BSL, including its chief operating officer (COO) were arrested on charges of negligence in ensuring safety during the blast furnace commissioning that caused the accident.

The action of both OSPCB and the DF&B are now bound to be under public scrutiny as there are reports that there was a great deal of political pressure on both these bodies to grant necessary approvals to the controversial steel plant.