Industry Dossier: Pharma city accident is the third major one in recent past

Industrial accidents in the region have raised serious concern among green activists about public safety and lack of disaster management plan.

The fire and explosion of mother oil tankers and generation tanks at the bulk drug unit of Auctus Pharma Ltd at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City, Parawada forced people of Tadi and neighbouring areas to flee from their homes.

This was the third major accident in recent past after release of dangerous gases from Nagarjuna Agrichem in Srikakulam on June 30 and explosion of oxygen pressure station at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on June 13.

“Industrial safety is a matter of serious concern. There should be evacuation plan as well as disaster management preparedness. In all recent incidents, it has proved that a lot more has to be done,” E.U.B. Reddy, professor of environment in Andhra University, said. He said everything went haywire when vapour clouds exploded at Visakh Refinery in 1997.

Visakhapatnam has been identified as a critically polluted area by the Central Pollution Control Board. A moratorium was mooted on Greenfield and Brownfield projects as the city is located in a bowl area and there is no escape route in the event of a major disaster, according to T. Rajeev, president of Paryavarana Parirakshana Samiti.

Utter confusion and chaos reigned supreme in Tadi area with the authorities failing to come to the scene immediately to evacuate them to safer places after the Monday midnight explosions.

About 1,000 families from Tadi even after three days of accident are having tense moments due to fear of more gas leaks and blasts. “Even before the accident at Auctus, we are having a nightmarish experience due to respiratory, skin and other problems due to pollution caused by the units located at JNPC,” Vijayalakshmi, a housewife from Tadi, said.

The accident also puts a question mark over the decision of AP Pollution Control Board to withdraw closure notices issued on Auctus and four other units of JNPC. The units were closed after APPCB found them releasing emissions more than the prescribed levels in July. Later they were given conditional clearance to resume operations. Tadi Grama Badhitula Samkhema Sangham is spearheading an agitation for relocation of Tadi Colony, China Tadi and Peda Tadi to Peda Mushidiwada where the district administration identified a site for their relocation.

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