Thankfully it could’nt become Bhopal 2 it only took a toll of 11 people left 25 persons critical and about 1000 affected villagers in a radius of 5 kms were evacuated to safer places. The scene has evoked the memories of Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 which killed about 4000 people and about 5 lakh injured to sudden leak of methyl isocynate gas from union carbide pesticide plant
The tragedy occured at Vishakhapatnam’s LG Polymers plant where suddenly styrene gas leaked It is a toxic gas and people may die within ten minutes of its inhaling. The company was established in 1961 named as Hindustan Polymers to manufacture polystyrene .It was taken over by a South Korean multinational LG chemicals in 1997. The company maufactures general purpose high impact and expandable polystyrene and engineering plastic compounds .It employees about 300 workers one of which died on this gas leakage tragedy. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan reddy and industries minster Gautam Reddy reached Vishakhapatnam and met affected people in hospital. According to industries minister workers were checking gas storage tank when it started leaking .The officials struggled for about four hours to contain the leakage. According to Vishakhapatnam collector the situation was very serious till 6 am. Besides eleven people, large numbers of animals dogs birds and other pets have also died due to this gas leak . Visuals of people crying for help mothers running with children in their laps reminds one the Bhopal tragedy. NDRF team rushed from Pune and police did their best to rescue the people help from Vishakhapatnam Naval base was also rushed CM Jaganmohan Reddy has announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 crore to the families of those who died and a compensation package who are affected and who have lost their livestock
Officials of the compnay are investigating the cause of leak but primary investigation suggests it was because of malfunctioning in the equipment due to which temperature suddenly rose and the organic compound styrene which is normally in liquid form converted to gas and evaporated The engineers of the company should have taken the care that after a lockdown of so many days equipments may not be in their normal working condition they must have been first properly checked and then the working should have been started.Two more such incidents are reported to day itself but thankfully there were no casualities and the situation was controlled promptly In Tamil Nadu an explosion took place in the boiler of a factory and toxic gas leak in a paper factory of Chhattisgarh.The common factor among all three incidents has been poor operational and maintenance work due to lockdown and absence of skilled staff. The incident prompted union government to issue the general advisory to all chemical plants to be extra vigilant before restarting the operation .
But only lockdown and improper care of equipments and machinery is not responsible for this tragedy. LG polymers India did not have an envirometal clearance for its petrochemical plant for about 20 years between 1997 and 2019. It is unbelievable but is true as a reputed English daily has reported and claims to have documentry proof of this criminal illegality Not only this the company has also accepted through an affidavit submitted to state level Environment impact assesment authority (EIA) admitting that it did not have a valid environmental clearance substantiating the produced quantity issued by competent authority for continuing operation . Not only this it had expanded the production beyond the limit of environmental clearance or changed the product mix without obtaining prior environmental clearance as mandated under EIA notifiction of 2006. All this suggest that there has been criminal negligance not only at the part of company but at the part of state government and local administration also . Chemical plants operation always needs extra alert and promptness specially after Bhopal tragedy all such plants must have been kept under strict vigil but carelessness corruption and greed usually plays havoc but no lesson is learnt. Industrialisation is important for development but human lives are precious.