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The police and ambulances continued to be on the standby at the site.

Villagers stage protest

Some of the drums storing chemicals exploded due to the heat. On hearing explosions and pungent smell, people from neighbouring Thanam village protested by squatting near Pharma City demanding closure of all polluting units.

AITUC leader Venkat Rao blamed the management for not initiating pollution control measures.

He said the company was closed three months ago for not adhering to emission standards, but was re-opened by exerting pressure on the authorities.

Former sarpanch of Thanam Appa Rao said the authorities should take action against pharma units for their failure to stick to emission norms and not adopting fire safety measures.

“People in the vicinity are living with a Damocles’ sword on their heads due to accidents at JNPC at regular intervals,” he remarked.

The mishap reflects the gross negligence of the regulatory authorities who are allowing such units to function without provisions for coping with such mishaps, environment activist Ratnam said.