Black smoke still billowing out from two storage tanks

Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Tuesday announced an interim relief of Rs.50 crore for the industrial units and residents of villages and colonies around the Indian Oil Corporation depot at Sitapura Industrial Area near here to compensate for the losses suffered by them in the fire at the terminal raging since last Thursday.

Mr. Deora made the announcement at a meeting with the Rajasthan Industries Minister, Rajendra Pareek, and senior State Government officers at Shastri Bhavan in New Delhi. Mr. Pareek informed the Union Minister of the preliminary estimates of losses to the tune of Rs.300 crore.

According to an official release here, State Principal Industries Secretary C.S. Rajan and Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO) chairman Sunil Arora accompanied Mr. Pareek at the meeting. The meeting was arranged after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot raised the issue with the Centre.

Mr. Pareek said after the meeting that the interim relief would be utilised for paying compensation to the industrial units for the loss of their raw material, plants and machineries as well as to the villagers residing near the IOC depot whose houses and agricultural fields were damaged.

The Minister said the survey for the losses had started following the appointment of the appraisal teams, while the final assessment of damages would be made jointly by the officers of IOC, State Government and the insurance companies. He said the State Government had estimated the losses to be around Rs.300 crore.The fire at the IOC depot here continued to rage for the sixth consecutive day, though there were signs that the flames were abating. Thick black smoke was billowing out of two of the 11 huge vertical storage tanks and the fir was likely to take some more time for completely dying out. Police have registered a case under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of Indian Penal Code and the Petroleum Act against the IOC officials after an executive of a private company, Genus Overseas, lodged a complaint accusing them of indulging in a “rash and negligent act” resulting in several deaths and massive destruction.

The first information report was registered at the Sanganer Sadar police station on the complaint lodged by the Human Resources Manager, P.S. Khurana, of Genus Overseas, which is situated near the oil depot. Three persons died and 15 were injured at the factory, while its building was extensively damaged in the explosion and fire at the terminal.

The district administration has decided to shut educational institutions in Sitapura for the next eight days in view of damage caused to some of the buildings. Meanwhile, the State Govt. has appointed a committee to look into the impact of the fire and smoke on the environment amid reports that the high-level pollution was affecting the health of the people in and around the city.