Nearly a week after a powerful explosion at a pharmaceutical company killed eight people and injured seven others at Tarapur Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) complex, police Thursday registered an FIR against its owner Natwarlal Patel.
Boisar police booked Patel for causing death due to negligence and handling explosive substances and machinery in a negligent manner likely to endanger human life under the Indian Penal Code.
Patel, who was also injured in the incident, continues to remain unconscious at Wockhardt Hospital in Mira Road where he was rushed on January 11 after glass pieces pierced his stomach, police said. He had undergone a surgery a day later.
Senior Inspector Pradeep Kasbe said the case was registered after the MIDC, the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) submitted their preliminary inquiry reports to the police “The MIDC had granted Patel permission to build only a ground-plus-one structure, but he built a ground-plus-two building,” Kasbe said.
The MIDC also found that two families, who served as the company’s caretakers and employees, and suffered the maximum casualties, had been staying on its premises illegally.
The factories inspector of the DISH informed the police that Patel, a chemical engineer, had installed reactors, thermopacks and centrifuges in a space meant for the company’s administrative office, without obtaining requisite permissions. The DISH, Kasbe said, also identified the components used in the product that Patel was producing when the explosion took place at 6.50 pm on January 11.
“The MPCB, in its report, has stated that it had granted Patel permission to conduct the tests, but the temperature and pressure generated during the process went beyond his control and resulted in the explosion,” Kasbe added.
Among other violations uncovered by the MPCB, Patel is also alleged to have stored hazardous chemicals, some imported from China, and used the premises to manufacture products for another company he owns in Tarapur MIDC, M/s Alexo Chemicals.
On Monday, the MPCB had issued a notice to Patel to close down ANK Pharma within 72 hours and directed MIDC and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd to disconnect the company’s electricity and water supplies.
With its investigation still on, police may add further sections and names of accused to its FIR, said Kasbe. He added that departments concerned will also submit reports of their detailed inquiries.
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