In an action taken report submitted on November 7 before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had initiated suo motu proceedings after a fire broke out at a Vizag chemical plant in July, the Gujarat government has listed measures it plans to undertake to safeguard against fire accidents in the state, including filling up vacant posts and off-site emergency mock drills once a year.
In July, the principal bench of the green tribunal, while referring to the industrial blast at a chemical plant, Yashashvi Rasayan Private Ltd, in Dahej, had directed the Gujarat Chief Secretary Anil Mukim to file an action taken report. The June 3 blast had left 10 workers dead and several injured.
During a meeting, chaired by Mukim in August, a Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) official had apprised that the Yashashvi Rasayan incident had occurred due to “negligence” by factory personnel. The official said the company had all requisite licenses at the time, except for a Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) permission for hydrogen cylinders storage.
It had also come to light that the mandatory once-a-year inspection of industrial units, as per Rule 3 of Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (MSIHC) Rules, 1989, had seen “difficulties” in being adhered to “with the given staff strength”. The Director of Industrial Safety & Health was then asked to fill up the vacant posts in the department.
V B Borgaonkar, Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, Vadodara, too, had echoed issues of manpower in the meeting and informed that a total of 1,250 inspections were carried out by four officers of PESO, Vadodara, during 2019-20. Borgaonkar also informed that compliance of Rule 3 of MSIHC Rules, 1989, that is, to inspect major accident hazard premises once in a year was “not possible considering existence of total 40,000 licensed premises, including 1800 MAH premises within the jurisdiction of PESO Vadodara office”.
Mukim had then asked Borgaonkar “to take up the matter at an appropriate level to enhance manpower as per their requirements”.
In the August meeting, Mukim reportedly had stated: “It is not only necessary to increase the frequency of inspections, but also to make inspections more effective in order to ensure compliance of statutory provisions and effective implementation of safety measures and practices by the units”. Apart from increasing manpower across various departments, pertaining to ensuring industrial safety, a decision was also taken that Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) will be included in the district off-site emergency mock drills, which are to be conducted at least once in a calendar year in all major accident hazard clusters.
Mukesh Puri, the Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development and Urban Housing Department, who is also chairman of GPCB, had also attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, a blast at a chemical factory in Ahmedabad last week had led to the collapse of a nearby textile factory and left 12 people, including a minor, dead.
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