Suspecting an attempt to bail out the management of HPCL Visakh Refinery, CPI (M) State secretariat member and former State president of CITU Ch. Narsinga Rao on Saturday wondered why no action had been taken so far for the August 23 seawater cooling tower blast which claimed 27 lives.
Addressing a meeting by unions of various industries affiliated to CITU near the main gate of Visakh Refinery coinciding with September 14, 1997 vapour cloud explosion in the refinery in which 61 people died, Mr. Rao said it was unfortunate that so far none had been held accountable for the major safety lapse.
He said the hydrocarbons accumulated in the cooling tower leading to the blast due to negligence of the management. Mr. Rao said HPCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director S. Roy Choudhary had promised prompt action immediately after the incident but so far no action had been taken neither against HPCL top officials nor any contractor.
He resented delay in disbursal of Rs.20 lakh promised to each contract worker killed in the accident and providing of a permanent job for one eligible member from the deceased’s family through contract labour society. “The amount has been deposited with the district administration but it has not been disbursed to the families of the deceased yet,” he pointed out.
Mr. Rao said the HPCL management had not yet paid any ex gratia to the injured patients and found fault with Union Minister M. Veerendra Moily and HPCL management for not paying any ex gratia to Jayalakshmi, wife of Ch. Murali, senior executive of HPCL.
Earlier, tributes were paid to all the 27 who died in the August 23 accident. A 20-minute audio-visual presentation of 1997 and 2013 accidents was also made at the meeting.
HPCL Contract Workers’ Union honorary president M. Jaggi Naidu presided. Union president Pydriraju, CITU leaders Kumar Mangalam (HSL), N. Rama Rao (VSP), P. Venkat Reddy, Mani, and Y. Raju spoke.