The fire at the Indian Oil Corporation depot at Sitapura Industrial Area near here showed signs of abating on the seventh day on Wednesday with only the last of the 11 huge vertical fuel storage tanks still ablaze. The fire is likely to completely die down in another 24 hours when the tank’s lids break due to pressure.
Thick black clouds of fumes emanating from the sole burning tank were visible over a stretch of two to three km in the industrial area. Traffic on Tonk Road in front of the fuel terminal as well as in a radius of 500 metres of the site continued to remain closed as a safety measure.
The district administration plans to start its search operations inside the premises once the fire – widely blamed on human negligence – is extinguished. Work in the industrial units and traffic on the Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur railway track situated near the depot will also resume after the IOC gives the safety clearance.
People residing in the colonies near the depot have been complaining of lack of water and power which were cut off since Thursday evening when the fire started. The State Government’s Public Health Engineering Department is supplying water to the area through tankers.
The smoke which has enveloped the area has also led to respiratory problems and itching in the eyes among the local residents. Doctors have especially advised the pregnant women to stay away from the polluted area.
While the Sawai Man Singh Medical College here has appointed a five-member committee of specialists to look into the immediate and long-term health fallouts of the devastating fire, the State Homoeopathic Society has prepared a “composite medicine” for treatment of disorders caused by emission of smoke.
Society’s management board chairperson Justice V.S. Dave said here that the medicine would be distributed free of cost to the patients at the outlets opened on the campus of the Homoeopathy University being constructed at Sitapura.
Owners of industrial units at Sitapura have rejected the relief package offered by the State Government, saying it was inadequate. Sitapura Industrial Association president S.N. Kabra said the rebates in the shape of waiver of value added tax collection and service tax and fire tax would not compensate for the enormous losses suffered by entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court has asked the State Government to file an affidavit by November 9 providing details of the rescue operations and action to control the fire which has been raging since last Thursday and has claimed 12 lives so far.
Responding to a public interest litigation, a Division Bench of the Court also directed the Advocate General to come up with the steps the State Government was planning to avert such mishaps, leading to loss of life and public property, in future.