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Glochem in the line of fire for ‘negligence’

Santosh Patnaik
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The fire-ravaged bulk drug unit of Glochem Industries Limited at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City at Parawada near Visakhapatnam.- Photo: A. Manikanta Kumar
The fire-ravaged bulk drug unit of Glochem Industries Limited at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City at Parawada near Visakhapatnam.- Photo: A. Manikanta Kumar

The bulk drug unit of Glochem Industries Limited at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC) here, which suffered extensive damage in Thursday night’s fire, came under strong criticism from the Departments of Fire Services, Factories and other agencies for not adopting proper safety mechanisms.

The blaze destroyed the buildings and various products in five blocks and a warehouse of the unit which launched its operations four years ago.

The fire persisted for about seven hours after the authorities decided to allow it to die down on its own, forcing fire-fighting personnel to remain as spectators.

Pulled up

After inspecting the unit, Director-General of Fire Services N. Sambasiva Rao pulled up company officials for not installing proper safety apparatus and not obtaining ‘no objection certificate’ from the Fire Services Department.

Minister for Infrastructure and Investment Ganta Srinivasa Rao, who also visited the factory and discussed the incident with Glochem COO Sandeep Kattamuri, said a senior official would be asked to probe into the fire to find out the circumstances that led to the mishap.

General Manager of Glochem Industries R.A. Kulkarni said that they had obtained NOC for installation of underground solvent storage tank.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that flammable solvents caught fire due to high variation of temperature while preparing an active pharmaceutical ingredient at the company which also has units at Jadcherla and Bollaram.

While making Amlodipine stage-II product, toluene and sodium hydrate are being added from stage-I along with liquid ammonium nitrate at minus 10 to 15 degree centigrade.

It is stirred for three hours to attain the desired temperatures. “The reactor vent to dump tank came out, spilling the solvents all the over the floor. The solvents came in contact with moisture leading to outbreak of fire,” Mr. Kulkarni explained.

Cases registered

Joint Chief Inspector of Factories D. Chandrasekhar Varma said they had registered three cases against the company including one in November, 2012 for an accident following electric short-circuit and two for violating various parameters.

He said it was too early to confirm whether a manual error or a mechanical fault caused the fire.

Departments of Fire Services, Factories and other agencies pull up the management for not adopting proper safety mechanisms

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