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Two weeks after Kopili hydel project disaster, rescuers recover two bodies

The 275 MW hydel plant is completely shut now and will start only after renovation and modernisation.

Two weeks after Kopili hydel project disaster, rescuers recover two bodies
A burst pipeline carrying water to a hydro-power plant of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) in Assam's Dima Hasao district, flooding one of the main power stations and trapping four people on October 7.(PTI)

Two weeks after the disaster at the state-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation’s (NEEPCO) Kopili hydel project in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, rescuers recovered two dead bodies from the power station on Monday, officials said.

On October 7, as the penstock (pipe) carrying water from the reservoir to the power station burst, flooding one of the main power stations of the 275 MW plant and trapping four workers including three NEEPCO employees.

“Two bodies have been recovered today. They have been identified as that of our junior engineer (Robert John Ngamlai) and Joy Sing Tisso, another employee,” said Vinod Kumar Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, NEEPCO. Singh said bodies were recovered after removal of hundreds of tonnes of debris in the multi-storey power station whose three floors are underground. The bodies have been recovered from the lowest floor, Singh said.

Amitabh Rajkhowa, the Deputy Commissioner of Dima Hasao said the two bodies were recovered by the divers of the NDRF team which is involved in rescue operation.

Prempal Balmiki, a sanitation worker and Raju Reddy who worked for a private contractor are yet to be traced.

Albertson Tisso, the 23-year-old son of Joy Sing Tisso said NEEPCO should compensate all the victims and give job to the next of kin. Singh said the employees will be compensated as per NEEPCO’s policy.

Albertson also demanded a CBI probe into the incident.

Singh said investigation into the causes of the incident is on. “On the first day, prima facie it looked like an accident. Now we cannot be sure unless we have analysed everything. Right now we are keeping all options open,” Singh said.

Singh had earlier blamed acidic water in the reservoir as the one and only reason for the accident. Experts say rat hole coal mining in neighbouring Meghalaya which was rampant before it was banned, polluted streams and rivers including the Kopili.

The 275 MW hydel plant is completely shut now and will start only after renovation and modernisation, Singh had earlier said.

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