Three contractual workers have received severe burn injuries in an explosion which led to a fire in the Igniter Complex of the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), a premier research laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) located in Pashan. The incident took place around Tuesday noon.
The condition of one of the injured, who received 75 per cent burn injuries, is critical, according to doctors.
An inquiry has been ordered to probe the causes of the incident, officials said.
A press release issued by the HEMRL through the Defence PRO said, “An accident has taken place in Igniter Complex of HEMRL Tuesday, around noon, during a mixing operation. The operation was being carried out under the supervision of HEMRL officials. Three contract workers got burn injuries. of the three, two were involved in the mixing operation and had more than three years of experience in this field. The third person went to hand over a solvent bottle to them. All the three workers were taken to medical emergency room immediately for preliminary treatment and afterwards they were shifted to a hospital in the city. HEMRL officials stated that prima facie all safety norms were adhered to. However, to find out the exact cause of accident, DRDO HQ has ordered an inquiry committee.”
The three workers have been identified as Deepak Pokale, Santosh Londhe and Bajirao Sutar. They are currently being treated at Surya Hospital.
A doctor at the hospital said, “Pokale has sustained 75 per cent burn injuries. His condition is extremely critical and the coming 24 hours are very crucial. Londhe and Sutar have sustained 45 and 35 per cent burn injuries and they are stable.”
Sources from the HEMRL said the probe was focusing on whether all the standard operating procedures were followed or not.
KPS Murthy, Director of the HEMRL, could not be contacted.
In a similar incident in 2002 at the facility, six persons, two lab technicians and four contract workers, were killed in a blast in the solid rocket propellant section.
In another accident in 2009, ceiling of one of the labs was completely blown away after an explosion.
HEMRL one of the premier laboratories of DRDO where research and development on high energy materials like propellants and high-power explosives and on pyrotechnics is carried out. The laboratory has played a key role in development of the missile systems of India ranging from Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Nag and many others. The lab also carries out testing of prototypes of the missiles for test use of propellants. The laboratory is spread over 800 acres of the land in Pashan and Sutarwadi area.