Ex­ter­nal ex­perts to probe Bhi­lai plant fire

Min­is­ters Chaud­hary Biren­der Singh and Vishnu Deo Sai vis­ited the ac­ci­dent site to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

In­ci­dents of ATM thefts, rob­beries or bur­glar­ies be­ing re­ported from states like West Ben­gal, Bi­har and Ut­tar Pradesh have be­come fre­quent and these in­ci­dents are caus­ing a huge loss of hun­dreds of crores to the banks. This in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided by the Min­istry of Fi­nance to the Lok Sabha in Au­gust this year.

Bi­har has re­ported over 330 in­ci­dents of ATM thefts since 2015 and the num­ber of in­ci­dents of ATM thefts and rob­bery in Bi­har has in­creased since 2016. The num­ber of in­ci­dents of ATM thefts re­ported in Bi­har be­tween 2016 and 2017 stood at more than 120 cases in each year, caus­ing a loss of about Rs 10 crore to the banks, while Ut­tar Pradesh has re­ported some 292 in­ci­dents of ATM thefts from the state, caus­ing a loss of Rs 14 crore to the banks.

West Ben­gal is not far be­hind, with over 290 in­ci­dents of ATM thefts be­ing re­ported from the state dur­ing the same pe­riod, caus­ing the banks to lose to the tune of Rs seven crore.

Cases of ATM thefts in Ben­gal were also on the rise dur­ing 2016 -17 and 105 such in­ci­dents were re­ported from the state each year in 2016-17.

In Jammu and Kash­mir, most of the re­ports were about ter­ror­ists loot­ing ATMs. Post de­mon­eti­sa­tion, more than 70 in­ci­dents of ATM thefts were re­ported from the state in 2016 and 2017.

Na­tional cap­i­tal Delhi has also re­ported more than 130 cases of ATM thefts in the pe­riod 2015-June 2018, in which more than Rs 10 crore were looted from ATMs in dif­fer­ent parts of the city. Po­lice of­fi­cials have said that the in­crease in the num­ber of ATM thefts from dif­fer­ent states shows the dis­mal law and or­der sit­u­a­tion in the states.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cial from the Delhi po­lice said, “In­ci­dents of ATM thefts have in­creased even in Delhi. We are tak­ing mea­sures like in­creas­ing night pa­trolling in ar­eas and putting in place the pra­hari (guard) sys­tem for bet­ter vig­i­lance.”

“The in­creas­ing num­ber of such in­ci­dents from states shows that there is some prob­lem with the law and or­der sit­u­a­tion in the states. ATM thefts are done by crim­i­nals for easy money; they know that once they break open an ATM, they can get some Rs 10-15 lakh at one go,” the po­lice of­fi­cial said.

A to­tal of 3,167 in­ci­dents of rob­bery, thefts or bur­glary have been re­ported from sev­eral ATMs across dif­fer­ent states in In­dia caus­ing a to­tal loss of more than Rs 168 crore to dif­fer­ent banks in In­dia.

How­ever, most of the North East­ern states have re­ported the low­est num­ber of in­ci­dents of ATM thefts dur­ing2015June 2018. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Mi­zo­ram and Na­ga­land have not seen a sin­gle case of ATM theft in the re­gion, while states like Goa, Te­lan­gana, Ut­tarak­hand, and Hi­machal Pradesh have also seen a very few such in­ci­dents. The Min­istry of Steel will con­duct a high-level en­quiry by ex­ter­nal ex­perts into the dev­as­tat­ing fire ac­ci­dent at Bhi­lai steel of plant in which 12 em­ploy­ees of Steel Author­ity of In­dia Limited (SAIL) were killed.

This will be apart from the in­ter­nal en­quiry be­ing car­ried out by the SAIL man­age­ment, said a SAIL of­fi­cial. The fire, which be­gan at a gas pipe­line in the Coke Oven Bat­tery Com­plex No 11 dur­ing a sched­uled reg­u­lar main­te­nance, also in­jured 11 peo­ple who are be­ing treated for griev­ous burns at a lo­cal hospi­tal.

Tak­ing stern ac­tion, the SAIL man­age­ment has sus­pended two se­nior of­fi­cials of the plant, while CEO M. Ravi has been di­vested of his dues fol­low­ing the fire ac­ci­dent this week, said the of­fi­cial.

Union Steel Min­is­ter Chaud­hary Biren­der Singh, along with his ju­nior Vishnu Deo Sai and Ch­hat­tis­garh Chief Min­is­ter Ra­man Singh, vis­ited the Bhi­lai plant to take stock of the sit­u­a­tion. They also went to the plant’s JLN Hospi­tal & Re­search Cen­tre where he held a meet­ing with the SAIL chair­man and other com­pany of­fi­cials as well as the doc­tors and hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tors.

A team of doc­tors from Delhi’s AIIMS also reached Bhi­lai to as­sist the lo­cal med­i­cal team treat­ing the in­jured em­ploy­ees, some of whom have sus­tained ex­ten­sive burn in­juries. The AIIMS doc­tors ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion about the fa­cil­i­ties in the hospi­tal and the treat­ment be­ing pro­vided by hospi­tal team.

Later, Biren­der Singh an­nounced ex-gra­tia pay­ment of Rs 30 lakh to the fam­ily of each of the de­ceased em­ploy­ees, Rs 15 lakh to the se­ri­ously in­jured em­ploy­ees and Rs 2 lakh to em­ploy­ees with mi­nor in­juries. He also as­sured all pos­si­ble as­sis­tance to fam­i­lies of the de­ceased per­sons. The min­is­ter said that new tech­niques of de- blank­ing would be in­tro­duced to pre­vent re­cur­rence of such in­ci­dents in fu­ture.

This is the sec­ond such ac­ci­dent at the plant in the last four years. In the ear­lier ac­ci­dent, six per­sons were killed when the main header of the pump house, which sup­plies wa­ter to the gas clean­ing plants of the blast fur­naces, sud­denly rup­tured in June 2014. In­ter­est­ingly, the plant is con­sid­ered as one of the best fa­cil­i­ties of SAIL. Walk­ing cau­tiously along the nar­row lanes of Ku­mar­tuli, the tra­di­tional sculpt­ing hub and pot­ters lane in north Kolkata, one can eas­ily lo­cate the few women idol mak­ers who have carved a niche for them­selves in a world hith­erto dom­i­nated by men. Pop­u­lar fe­male idol-maker Chaina Pal, who had to tackle scep­ti­cal cus­tomers in the past, re­cently vis­ited China to show­case her work (two of her idols are dis­played in a Chi­nese mu­seum). Mala Pal, who has a sim­i­lar story, is now a favourite for her minia­ture idols.

I loved vis­it­ing my fa­ther’s stu­dio as a child, but he never en­cour­aged me as a fe­male was rarely seen in Ku­mar­tuli. Later, when he fell ill I could ac­tu­ally fill the gap as my elder broth­ers were busy do­ing their jobs. At the age of 14, I took charge of the work­shop af­ter he passed away, Chaina, who now runs an­other stu­dio in Bagh­bazar with eight helpers, told IANS.

Ex­plain­ing her ini­tial hard­ship, she said: It was dif­fi­cult as I did not know the en­tire process of idol-mak­ing, but my sheer love for the art helped me to learn it quickly. There has been no turn­ing back for the lit­tle girl who took some time to win the con­fi­dence of cus­tomers.

Chaina has earned the ti­tle Dashab­huja (a ref­er­ence to God­dess Durga, who has ten hands) for ef­fi­ciently

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