August 22, 2009 4:42:57 am
With the Alang ship-breaking yard witnessing as many as seven deaths due to accidents in the last 20 days,the local port officer has admitted that most of these mishaps occur due to negligence.
A Polish national died in a blast on Thursday,while six labourers had lost their lives in a similar accident on August 4. The preliminary report of the Gujarat Maritime Board on the earlier incident stated the accident could have been avoided if proper guidance was given.
GMB official S C Mathur,who is conducting the inquiry into the August 4 incident,said,Labourers used a torch flame for cutting the metal instead of a hammer,which led to the blast and fire. The presence of a supervisor would have prevented the labourers from using a wrong tool. The GMB is,however,still waiting for the FSL report to complete the inquiry.
In the last eight months,12 people have lost their lives in separate accidents. In the only action taken so far against those responsible,the owner of plot number 24 was penalised with Rs 1 lakh which will go to the workers welfare fund and the plot was closed down for five days,said Alang Port Officer C Parmar.
Nikhil Gupta,Joint Secretary,Alang Sosiya Steel Recycling Association,said,This is unfortunate. Despite our best efforts,the zero-accident goal cannot be reached in any industry. He added,Since the 90s,we have been successful in bringing down the number of accidents,but certain human errors are inevitable.
The workers association has,meanwhile,threatened to move the court if more compensation is not given to the families of the victims. Plans are afoot to file a plea in the Gujarat High Court demanding an inquiry to find out the presence of oil in the engine room where the blast occurred on August 4. We have already written to the Chief Justice and the Chief Minister for a judicial probe into the incident, said V V Rane,secretary,Alang Sosiya Workers Association. He added that the families of the victims of the August 4 incident have received compensation of Rs 2 lakh,but they are demanding to increase it to Rs 10 lakh.
Rane further said that even as directives of the Supreme Court in this regard were clear that vessel should be free of hazardous explosives,we have reports that the guidelines are not being followed properly.
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