Tribune News Service
Shimla, June 15
Three engineers were suffocated to death at the state-run Rongtong hydropower project in Spiti valley when a valve at the plant burst all of a sudden around 8.15 pm on Sunday night.
Sanjay Kumar (37), Vijay Kumar (25) and Danishsaise (28) were killed while they were fixing the new turbine. The main inlet valve of the project’s unit-III exploded following a sudden rise in water pressure in the penstock. The panels fell on the engineers, who got buried in a pool of icy water.
Around 20 more workers were engaged in the repair work when the mishap occurred. All of them were safe, said Kaza Additional Deputy Commissioner Sunil Sharma, who has been directed by the government to conduct an inquiry. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was to inaugurate the 2-MW project on June 19.
Vijay and Sanjay, of the HP State Electricity Board (HPSEB), belonged to Mandi while Danishsaise was employed with a Noida-based firm, which was hired for the repair.
The HPSEB has set up a four-member committee to look into the accident.
Board managing director PC Negi said Naveen Kumar Kaushal, Chief Engineer (projects-cum-arbitrator) would head the panel. The board has also announced Rs 2 lakh relief to the kin of the victims.
The bodies of the deceased were handed over to their relatives after a post-mortem at a hospital in Kaza, 5 km away from the mishap site. The victims died due to hypothermia caused by icy water, their medical report said.
The project has been shut down indefinitely, said BM Sud, Chief Engineer (Generation), who was about to enter the powerhouse to monitor the repair work when the accident occurred.
The plant, more than 20 years old, supplies electricity mainly to Kaza town. The project has been built on the Spiti, a river originating from the 17,000-ft high Kunjam Pass glacier in Lahaul-Spiti district. The repair work was on at the plant, closed since 2013, as most of its machinery was outdated.
The police have sealed the powerhouse after registering an FIR at Kaza police station.
Scheduled Castes had backed Cong in 2017