Mettur, 20 September 2009: A wall that was under construction in Chemplast Sanmar Plant 3 gave way causing a contract worker to jump off the wall and suffer a spinal injury. The accident which happened at 5.30 p.m. on 19 September is the fourth such mishap at Chemplast Sanmar’s controversial thermal power plant. The 6 feet high wall was being constructed on the 3rd floor in the panel room building, lodging electrical equipment, at the thermal plant site in Chemplast Plant 3.
The injured worker Krishnan, aged 30 years is from Kozhipannai area. While the workers on the inside of the building were giving the finishing touches, the wall started to slant towards the other side due to pressure. On realizing this, Krishnan, who was on the other side of the wall jumped off and hit the stair case on the second floor. The workers were not wearing any safety belt. They only had helmets. Both workers were contract daily wage labourers.
Krishnan injured his head and spine. He was provided first aid at the company?s clinic and by 8 p.m. was transferred to Archo Hospital, Erode. By this time the worker is said to have lost a lot of blood from a deep cut at the back of his neck. Apart from being treated for the spinal injury, he has had stitches for the cut on his head and has undergone various tests. The doctors also suspect nervous damage.
This is the fourth incident, in the last two years, at the Chemplast Sanmar thermal power plant where safety lapses have taken a toll on the workers or community. On 19.11.2007, a contract worker died following an accident inside the premises. On 27.11.2007, explosion sent huge boulders flying into the nearby residential area causing damage to some of the houses. On 28.01.2008, a contract migrant worker Prithviraj, age 25 yrs, died on the way to the hospital after being severely injured in an accident during the construction of the thermal power plant in Chemplast Sanmar. Another worker was severely injured and underwent treatment at Gokulam Hospital, a private facility in Salem.
The thermal power plant at Chemplast Sanmar Plant 3 has been an issue of contention since its construction began in January 2007. The construction of the plant was halted between 25.03.2008 and 22.06.2009 due a case filed by a local farmers? organisation at the Environment Appellate Authority, and the Madras High Court.
Trial runs that began in the beginning of September 2009 caused nearby residents to complain as the noise associated with the release of steam from the boiler was “unbearably high.” Noise from this plant could be heard at villages situated more than 2 kms away. On 8 September, about 15 villagers from the vicinity of the Chemplast factory in Mettur gathered in front of the factory to ask them to cease testing of the steam lines of their new thermal power plant until proper permission is obtained from the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board.
The license to operate for Chemplast Sanmar Plant III, within which the 48.5 MW coal-fired thermal plant is located, expired in September 2008.
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