oppn parties Visakhapatnam Gas Leak: Need To Be Vigilant And Ensure Just And Quick Compensation

News Snippets

  • India's sovereign green bonds were oversubscribed four times as the RBI received 266 bids worth Rs 32892cr agaisnt the target of Rs 8000cr
  • Google tweaks its Android and India app store policy to allow manufacturers and users to choose certain things instead of compulsorily using Google apps after the CCI order and fine for unfairly dominating the market
  • Former US secretary of state calls former Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj a "goofback" and a "hinterland political hack". MEA S Jaishankar slams him
  • Jamia screening of BBC documentary on Gujarat riots cancelled after the university was turned into a fortress and later 13 students were detained by the police
  • Supreme Court grants conditional interim bail for eight weeks to Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra. The bail can be further extended based on his conduct. He was asked to stay outside Delhi-NCR and UP and surrender his passport
  • After the JNU administration tried to thwart the students from screening the BBC documentary on the Gujarat riots and PM Modi, now students of Presidency and Jadavpur universities in Kolkata have decided to screen it 5 times next week
  • While a US research frim Hindenburg says its analysis found the Adani group overleveraged and claimed that its bubble will burst very soon and that sent the price of group companies crashing (Adani companies lost a combined Rs 55000cr), Adani group said the report was 'baseless' and 'malicious'
  • This time Enforcement Directorate arrests TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale under PMLA for money laundering
  • Padma awards announced on Republic Day: Mulayam Singh Yadav, architect Balkrishna Doshi and ORS pioneer Dilip Mahalanobis get Padma Bibhushan posthumously, Padma Bhushan ius awarded to Kumar Mangalam Birla and 8 others and 91 get Padma Shri
  • Stocks fall big time on Wednesday on F&O expiry, finalncial and banks take big hit: Sensex tumbles 773 points to 60205 and Nifty 226 points to 17892 even as the market volatility meter shoots up by 8.51%
  • World Cup hockey: Germany stun England 4-3 to reach semifinals; Netherlands beat Korea 5-1 to enter last four
  • Australian Open: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna reach the finals
  • Suryakumar Yadav is named ICC Cricketer of the Year 2022 and Renuka Singh gets the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2022 award
  • BCCI gets a whopping Rs 4670cr in the auctions for the 5 teams in WIPL or as it will be known now, WPL. Adani Sportline gets Ahmedabad for Rs 1289cr while Mumbai Indians get Mumbai for 913cr
  • Calcutta HC overturns the hookah bar ban in Kolkata by saying that it is not an illegal trade
India Commentary Wishes A Happy Republic Day To All Its Readers /////// India Commentary Wishes A Happy Basant Panchami And Saraswati Puja To All Its Readers
oppn parties
Visakhapatnam Gas Leak: Need To Be Vigilant And Ensure Just And Quick Compensation

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-05-08 18:41:59

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

As if dealing with the pandemic was not enough, Indians woke up yesterday to hear about a horrifying and deadly industrial accident at Visakhapatnam. Styrene gas leaked out of the LG Polymer plant at Vizag and the consequences were disastrous. 11 people died, hundreds were hospitalized and thousands of others were affected. Cattle and animals, even street dogs, cats and rodents, died too. Trees were also affected. Survivors said that the gas had a debilitating effect and people collapsed where they stood and had great difficulty standing up again. Affected people complained of nausea, vomiting, headache, rashes and irritation in the eyes. Some lost consciousness. The police have booked the company for culpable homicide.

Although the Vizag incident was the biggest industrial accident in recent times, resumption of industrial activity has seen a spate of smaller accidents all over the country. Industrial units, especially those using hazardous chemicals or gases whose leakage or seeping is likely to spread over a large area and affect thousands of people, need round-the-clock maintenance. The lockdown has meant that most of these units were shut for not less than 40 days. There was no maintenance during that period. Now that they are slowly resuming operations, they are doing so with only the bare minimum maintenance staff in attendance. Somewhere, these units are cutting corners in priming up their main machines and secondary input units in order to start operations as fast as possible.

It is quite possible that the gas storage facility and the pipelines that supplied it to the plant at the LG Polymer plant in Vizag were not checked thoroughly before they were made operational. It is being reported that the refrigerating unit that kept the liquid form of styrene at 20 degrees (above which it gasifies) malfunctioned and consequently the styrene evaporated. The government acted with alacrity and dispatched a chemical and biological team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from Pune. The team managed to plug the leak and is now engaged in supporting the local administration in providing rescue and relief assistance to the affected people.

An inquiry will obviously be held to fix culpability, but the main issue is that there must be a protocol in place for industrial units resuming operations after a long closure. They must be asked to ensure thorough check-up and complete overhauling (not the one that is prescribed under normal running conditions) of all machines and storage tanks and other facilities on the premises. There should be a gap of a week or 15 days. or even more, (depending on the size of the unit) between the day the unit is sanctioned to resume operations and when it actually starts production. This time should be utilized by the company to get things ready in such a way that the possibility of accidents is negated. The unit must be made to obtain a clearance certificate from the area factory inspector in this regard.

In the instant case, all those affected must get just compensation and this must be done within three months. The case must not linger on like the Bhopal gas tragedy. Although the ambassador of South Korea (LG Chem Ltd. is South Korea's biggest petrochemical maker) has expressed shock and grief at the accident, the country must take full interest in making the company pay for its lapse. The Centre must also act fast and should ensure compensation reaches the right people without delay as they are already suffering the consequences of loss of salaries or income due to the lockdown. Some locals have begun demanding the closure of the plant in the wake of the tragedy. That is not the way out. Instead, we must ensure that industries invest properly in maintenance and safety equipment and carry out drills to prevent accidents. There must be a strict protocol in place to prevent accidents. The local administration must also conduct periodic and surprise checks to ensure compliance. Accidents like the one in Vizag are unfortunate but that does not mean industries should close down plants to prevent them. Also, to ensure affected people are not made to suffer endlessly, an amount must be prescribed and must be paid immediately to the affected people under such circumstances, pending a decision on the actual compensation after the inquiry.