Below is the text of the letter written to the Inspector In-Charge, Kotwali Joshimath, District Chamoli. This letter was sent by registered post to Joshimath Thana because the Thana in-charge was away in disaster-affected Tapovan and the Deputy Inspector who was present in the Thana expressed his inability to accept this letter in the absence of the in-charge.
A disastrous flood occurred at Rishiganga in Joshimath on 7 February 2021, due to which the Rishiganga Hydel Project in Raini was washed away and workers and local residents became victims of the disaster.
Sir, it took this horrific flood 15 to 20 minutes to reach from Raini to the barrage of the Tapovan-Vishnugad Project being constructed by NTPC at Tapovan. In emergency conditions, this time is sufficient to give the necessary warning and save people’s lives.
However, it is extremely unfortunate that the project construction company in Tapovan NTPC had made no arrangements to handle such an emergency. Indeed, there was not even a siren or hooter to give warning of danger. There were no ladders or ropes at the barrage site that could have been used by people to save themselves. There were also no emergency safety arrangements or oxygen supply inside the tunnel. If such arrangements had been in place, the lives of workers and other staff could have been saved and the Uttarakhand government need not have spent huge amounts on search operations. Uttarakhand suffered a huge natural disaster in 2013 also in which the Vishnuprayag Project barrage in the Joshimath region was totally destroyed. In Tapovan itself NTPC's Kafar Dam has been washed away twice earlier.
Not making emergency arrangements or installing an early warning system despite the earlier disasters is grave negligence on the part of NTPC for which workers and other staff have paid the price with their lives. It is a serious crime not to have made safety arrangements despite knowing from previous experience that this would cost lives of workers. The special committee constituted by the honourable High Court after the 2013 disaster had also directed early warning systems and other safety measures to be arranged, but the honourable High Court's orders were blatantly flouted.
Keeping the above facts in mind, we request that a case under the relevant sections (304 IPC) be registered against the Tapovan-Vishnugad Project construction company NTPC for the crime of causing the death of workers.
Atul Sati, State Committee member, CPIML Uttarakhand
Indresh Maikhuri, Garhwal Secretary, CPIML