The Telegraph
Saturday , March 1 , 2014
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Threat call charge on Bhushan

In the eye of the storm

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 28: A senior law officer of the Odisha State Pollution Control Board has lodged a police complaint saying that he had received a phone call warning him not to pursue a case against Bhushan Steel Limited and threatening him with dire consequences if he went ahead.

The caller apparently referred to the pollution related case against the steel company, said the complaint lodged with Nayapalli Police.

“I received a call on my mobile phone from an unknown number. The man on the other end of the line spoke in Hindi. The caller asked me not to pursue the case against the Bhushan steel plant. He asked me to be ready to face dire consequences if I went ahead,” said B.P. Pattajoshi, who has filed the complaint.

Member secretary of Odisha State Pollution Control Board Rajiv Kumar said: “We are in touch with the police, who are now investigating the matter.”

Inspector in charge of Nayapalli police station K.C. Mund said: “A station diary has been made and we are tracing the mobile number at the moment.”

Senior manager (human resource), Bhushan Steel, Subhankar Tripathy said he had no idea about the incident.

“I am not aware of any such incident. No one in our company could have done it. It might be the handiwork of people with vested interests to tarnish the image of our company.”

In November, the pollution board had filed criminal cases before the sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Dhenkanal, against Bhushan Steel Limited for violation of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, in its integrated steel plant.

The case was filled after a blast in furnace-II of its unit at Dhenkanal on November 13, which claimed lives of three labourers. More than a dozen labourers were injured in the incident.

The board had made Bhushan Steel Limited, its chief operating officer Atulya Kumar Verma, senior general manager Ram Manohar Sharma and executive vice-president Rahul Sengupta as parties in the criminal proceeding. The incident had triggered protests from members of civil society and political parties.

Political parties had even demanded resignation of the labour minister for the mishap and violation of laws by the steel company. Members of several political parties had made a spot visit and had demanded stern action against the company.

The company had drawn flak from various quarters for repeatedly violating norms.

Government statistics reveal that out of the 71 cases lodged at the Dhenkanal sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court since 2007, as many as 55 were related to fatal accidents inside the plant.