Government has also been told to file counter affidavit within four weeks

A day after the Orissa High Court issued notices to the State government on a PIL seeking closure of Bhusan Steel plant, the court on Wednesday issued notices to the government seeking a status report on the November 13 mishap inside the Dhenkanal-based steel plant.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice A K Goel and Justice A K Rath on the day took up yet another PIL filed by Nationalist Lawyers’ Forum and asked the State government to file the status report on the mishap within two weeks. The government has also been asked to file a counter affidavit within four weeks.

The petitioner Nishikant Mishra in his capacity as the secretary of the Forum had urged the High Court to order an independent inquiry, preferably by the CBI into the last month’s mishap in which officially it was declared that three workers died and several others injured.

Quoting media reports, Mr. Mishra had alleged that there were over 900 workers inside the plant at the time of the furnace blast which triggered a massive inferno causing extensive damage. The petitioner had alleged that the unofficial death toll in the mishap is pegged at much more than what the official figures say. The petitioner had also challenged the inaction of the State government and the company authorities for failing to provide due protection and security to the industrial workers, who lost their precious lives in the mishap.

“Gross negligent in implementing labour laws and other safety laws requisite for an industrial house were the causes of the loss of precious lives in the industrial house ever since it was commissioned in 2005.

Basing on newspaper reports, the PIL stated that at least 95 workers died inside the steel plant campus since 2005 and 65 criminal cases have been filed against the company till date.

Action sought

Seeking CBI enquiry into the mishap, the petitioner had also sought appropriate action against the company authorities for their gross negligence in implementing the labour laws and other safety laws that are mandatory for any industrial houses.