Gujarat HC seeks report on health, safety of power plant workers

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the state government and 11 coal and lignite-based thermal power stations in the state, including those of Tata Power, Adani Power, Torrent Power and Essar Power, over health and safety standards for workers in the units.

The notices were issued by the division bench of Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala while taking suo motu cognizance of directions issued by the Supreme Court on this issue.

Appearing for the state government, senior government pleader Prakash Jani informed the court that there were 11 thermal power plants in Gujarat that used coal or lignite as fuel.

The court issued notices to state government's health and labour departments and the 11 power stations, and asked them to file reply by 11 March, when the next hearing is scheduled.

The coal- and-lignite-based thermal power plants in Gujarat include Ukai power station  at Tapi, Gandhinagar TPS at Gandhinagar, Wanakbori TPS at Kheda, Sikka TPS at Jamnagar, Kutch lignite TPS at Lakhpat Kutch, Torrent power station at Ahmedabad, Essar Power station at Salaya, Jamnagar, Adani power station and Tata Power at Mundra, Kutch, GIPCL  TPS at Mangrol, Surat and GMDC TPS at Kutch.

On 31 January, the Supreme Court had directed the high courts of 18 states to examine whether the coal fired thermal power plants (CFTPPs) are complying with safety standards and regulations relating to health of their employees.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri relegated the issues to the high courts, saying the CFTPPs are spread across the country and it would not be practical for the apex court to examine whether each of them are adhering to safety standards and rules.

The high courts of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi/NCT Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Assam have been asked to "initiate suo moto proceedings in the larger interest of the workers working in CFTPPs".

The apex court was acting on a petition filed by Occupational Health and Safety Association.