Exercising caution after learning from the boiler blast at Neyveli Lignite Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to undertake safety audit of thermal power stations throughout the country within six months in order to avoid incidents arising out of the leakage of hazardous gases.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order after taking note of a report submitted by a committee constituted by it. According to the report, the cause of the incident is failure of the staff handling the situation which did not have the knowledge of the standard operating procedure and of the process.
"The staff was not given due training and requisite work permits. Thus, the Occupier, the Head of the Operation and Maintenance and the Safety Officer are mainly responsible for the accident. "There is a violation of safety norms under Section 38 of the Factories Act, 1948. There is also a violation of the Manufacture, Storage, Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989. In the process, the hazardous gases are generated, attracting the said Rules," the bench noted.
The committee also told the NGT that it is mandatory to prepare on-sight and off-sight emergency plan and holding of mock drills once in six months. Standard operating procedure has not been followed nor appropriate training given to the staff handling the process, the report said adding that the safety protocols have not been followed.
"We direct the Secretaries, Ministries of Power and Coal, Government of India, in coordination with such other Departments/Institutions as may be necessary, to undertake safety audit of similarly placed thermal power stations, throughout the country expeditiously, preferably within six months, to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future," the bench said.