5 foreign engineers at Bhushan plant missing: Minister

Bhubaneswar: In a startling revelation, Labour Minister Bijayshree Routray on Saturday said the state government does not have any information on the whereabouts of five foreign engineers who were working at the blast furnace no-2 of Bhushan Steel Ltd (BSL) on Wednesday.

"Five foreign engineers including two Thais and three Chinese, who were present during the commissioning work at the  Meramundali plant of BSL on November 13, are missing. We have not got any information about them so far," said Routray.

BSL's whole system of hiring workers appears to be full of flaws, the minister added.

Meanwhile, the minister asked the Dhenkanal district administration to collect information on the actual number of labourers working at the time of the deadly explosion at the plant from the labour contractors.

Labour Commissioner Shalini Pandit who has been probing the incident since yesterday found serious lapses in the company's staff attendance record maintenance system.

"There is no transparency about the attendance system. The company has been keeping different types of records for different types of employees which are making the task of finding details about any staff difficult," Pandit added.

On the other hand, Labour Secretary CTM Suguna informed that the blast caused death of one person only. 17 injured due to the explosion are being treated at different hospitals, she added.

An expert team from the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) is inspecting the Blast furnace-1 and 2 to find out the reasons of the blast.

Relatives of missing workers crowded in front of the gates of the steel plant searching for their near and dear ones.

Leaders of various political parties are also staging dharnas in front of the main gate demanding immediate arrest of the owner of the company and compensation for the victims.

On Thursday, BSL chief operating officer (COO) Atulya Kumar Verma, blast furnace in-charge Naveen Tyagi and operating head Meghpal Singh were arrested.