As the death toll rose to 29 on Thursday, initial reports from the site of the accident at NTPC Ltd’s Unchahar plant in Rae Bareli — the first of its kind in the Indian thermal power sector — indicate that safety norms were violated.
The reports point to a practice that is regularly resorted to across coal-fired plants in the country. The practice involves de-choking the bottom hopper — the funnel-shaped bottom end of the boiler — by using rods to push out ash clinkers while the boiler is in operation, in violation of safety norms. On Wednesday 1st Nov, this exercise seems to have gone horribly wrong at Unchahar.
According to information gathered from multiple sources, the Unchahar 500 MW Unit No. 6 was running at a load of around 200 MW at 1536 hours on Wednesday.