Chinese engineers bail plea hearing on March 8

Raipur, Feb 24 (IANS) The Chhattisgarh High Court has set March 8 to hear the bail pleas of the three Chinese engineers, arrested for their alleged role in the Korba Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (BALCO) power plant chimney crash that killed 40 workers.

The high court, based in Bilaspur, about 100 km from here, Tuesday deferred the case till March 8 after the state government sought at least a week to present the case diary, said B.K. Shukla, counsel for the Chinese engineers.

The engineers were employed with the Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp (SEPCO). On Jan 11, project in-charge Wu Chunan and two other civil engineers were arrested and presented before a local court that sent them to judicial custody.

A district and sessions court at Korba town, about 240 km from here, had rejected their bail Jan 18 and SEPCO then moved the high court.

Government officials say Vedanta Resources Plc-controlled Balco, in which the Indian government holds a 49 percent stake, had awarded SEPCO the contract of constructing two thermal power plants of 600 MW each at Korba.

Later, SEPCO outsourced the construction of a 257-metre chimney to Gannon Dunkerley and Company Limited (GDCL). The chimney had reached a height of 225 metres when it collapsed Sep 23 last year, killing 40 contracted workers.

The chimney collapse is described by the state government as the biggest industrial tragedy in Chhattisgarh. The government has ordered for a single-member judicial commission to probe the tragedy.

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