SALEM/CHENNAI: A devastating fire at the Mettur Thermal Power Station, in which one person was killed, past Wednesday midnight threatened to deprive the State of 840 MW electricity for another two months but the government acted swiftly in identifying alternative sources of power to offset the shortage within hours. Informing the State Assembly about the fire that completely gutted the conveyor system and coal handling unit of the thermal station, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said on Thursday that the 840 MW of power loss due to the unexpected accident would be offset by electricity generated from two units in Thoothukoodi and North Chennai and by the supply from a private company.
She said that by operating the two units that are now lying non-functional, the State would get 420 MW of power, while another 330 MW would be procured from a private power company at Pillaiperumal Nallur. So, the shortfall would be just 90 MW.
Expressing deep grief over the death of Nallathambi, an assistant, in the fire accident, Jayalalithaa announced a solatium of `2 lakh to his family and also announced a financial assistance of `25,000 to Gopal, who suffered burn injuries and is in a hospital.
According to the chief engineer of the thermal plant, M Madhu, preliminary investigations revealed that an electricity leak caused a spark that led to a full blown fire of the junction towers of the coal conveyor.
Officials estimated that it could take around two months to replace the coal conveyor unit I and its supportive installations that were completely gutted.
Madhu said the generators and turbines were not affected in the fire that broke out at 12.30 am, trapping five workmen as they tried to douse the flames. Three got out but Nalathambi (54) died and Gopal (46) was taken to Coimbatore for treatment.
District Fire Officer T Ezhilarasu said five fire tenders were brought from other places as the four tenders and 40 personnel at the in-house fire station could not manage the flames.