Chinks in preparedness exposed

SHIMLA: The major fire that broke out in a transformer of the underground power house of the 120 mw Sanjay Jalvidyut Pariyojna (SJP) in Kinnaur has brought to light the poor fire fighting and preventive measures in the board-run, private and public sector power projects, which have underground power houses in the state.

editorial@tribune.com

Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 23

The major fire that broke out in a transformer of the underground power house of the 120 mw Sanjay Jalvidyut Pariyojna (SJP) in Kinnaur has brought to light the poor fire fighting and preventive measures in the board-run, private and public sector power projects, which have underground power houses in the state.

The SJP has no fire tender and no “automatic blanket- shaped water sprinklers to nip the fire in the bud” and operators have no anti-fire gears and foaming system to inert the flammable oil surface or to douse the fire, revealed insiders.

Besides, the ill-equipped operators inside the underground power house that burnt like a smoldering cauldron for 27 hours since Thursday morning “do not have enough mechanical foam or fire alarm and the dedicated hydrants to prevent or douse the fire,” revealed fire safety experts.

Also, the state electricity board-run power projects- 126 mw Larji, including smaller projects like Giri, Baner, Gaj, Binwa, have no dedicated fire-safety wing to protect it from fire, revealed the sources.

“Even the fire safety maintenance manual is not monitored and the transformers are not overhauled or reconditioned as per manual in many power projects”, they charged.

What has raised the fire safety concern in the power houses is that the fire had damaged the underground Uri power in Jammu and Kashmir as well, said the hydro-experts.

The managers at the SJVNL-run 1500 mw Nathpa Jhakhri power project and the 420 mw Rampur power projects claim they have a “dedicated fire wing under the deputy commandant of the AISF security to monitor fire safety and fire fighting system to prevent the power houses that cost millions of rupees.

Both the NJPC and Rampur projects have adopted the latest fire fighting automatic blanket shaped sprinklers and dedicated fire hydrant to cool the transformers that otherwise heat up during generation of power, said KK Gupta, general manager, Rampur hydropower project.

The fire wing of the AISF security is dedicated to the fire safety of the projects, he added.

NHPC runs 520 mw Parbati project in Kullu, Chamera-I, Chamera II in Chamba have underground power houses. Similarly BBMB runs 990 mw underground Dehar power near Sundarnagar, which was shut down when the water had entered inside the power house a few years ago, revealed the engineers.

The Jaype power company runs two power projects- 1000 mw Karcham-wangtoo and 300 mw Baspa II on the Satluj river upstream of the SJP, which have underground power houses.

“We have dedicated fire extinguishers, sprinklers, sand foams, trained staff to oversee the fire safety in projects” claimed HK Sharma, managing director of the JP power projects. “We overhaul turbine and generators, change oil and check moisture in the transformers”, he added.

“We maintain the state-run power projects and have in place the maintenance manual for all power projects including HPSEBL-run and private and public sector”, said principal secretary, Power, SKBS Negi.

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