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Tata blast probe report this week

The committee probing the November 14 blast inside Tata Steel works will submit its report to state labour department by the end of this week and has indicated it was unhappy with the steel major’s response so far.

Led by chief factory inspector Awadesh Kumar Singh, the panel recently drew flak from labour commissioner Pooja Singhal for delaying a report of its investigations. Since then, members have spent hours examining the 70-page reply submitted by Tata Steel over safety protocols in LD-II gas-holder and control room records.

Singh said they might visit the explosion site on Thursday. “There are several missing links in Tata Steel’s reply on safety protocols. Even the control room data did not satisfy us. The company has so far not allowed us to speak to contract workers injured in the blast, claiming that they are on leave. We will submit the report within the next three days,” he added.

Labour commissioner Singhal confirmed that she had asked the chief factory inspector and his deputy A.K. Mishra to expedite probe. “They should have filed the report by December 10,” she said.

Singhal said she had asked the officials to report whether Tata Steel had an operation and maintenance manual for its machines, and whether regular safety drills were carried out at the plant. “The report should include information regarding the last drill.”

The labour commissioner has also directed the committee to verify whether welfare measures for contract employees were actually provided at the plant. “I have asked Tata Steel for a copy of its internal probe report by December 14 and information about the firm looking after maintenance and supply of gases at the LD-II holder,” she said.

The committee had submitted a preliminary report on the blast to the labour commissioner on November 19.

The report claimed that air leak led to the formation of an explosive mixture in the gas-holder. The gaseous mix pushed open the roof of the gas-holder, which landed at a distance of 50 metres and fell on supply pipelines. One of the pipelines developed a leak, triggering a spark that ignited inflammable gases.

Eleven workers were injured in the blast. One of them died during the course of treatment.