Accidents at regular intervals have triggered panic among the people raising doubts over workplace safety in various industrial establishments.

Questions are also raised over disaster management plans and the preparedness of the authorities concerned as panic-stricken people flee their homes whenever there is a gas leakage or an explosion.

The recent accident that shook many was when a reactor exploded leading to release of pungent smell and chemicals at the Hetero Drugs Limited at Nakkapalli killing three and injuring three workers.

This happened even when the blast at the oxygen pressure reduction station of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant killed 19 employees on June 13, a month and a half after two workers died on the spot in a fire that broke out at the third blast furnace.

Among the chemical units – the Nagarjuna Agrichem accident near Srikakulam on June 30 and fire and blast of mother liquid tankers and diesel tankers at Auctus Pharma Pvt. Ltd. at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City at Parawada on October 9 forced the people in the vicinity to flee their homes out of panic.

Shutdown notice

Ironically, Auctus was served a shutdown notice by the district administration a few days before the incident.

Informed sources said both the Inspectorate of Factories and the AP Pollution Control Board are plagued by manpower shortage to enforce adhere to various stipulations. As a result, there appears to be a compromise on maintenance as part of cost-cutting measures.

“In most cases safety is going for a toss due to lack of enforcement. Workplace safety is such an important factor which needs periodic review and mid-course corrections,” admitted a senior government official.

Former IAS officer E.A.S. Sarma wants the moratorium on Greenfield and Brownfield industrial development in and around Visakhapatnam followed strictly after the Central Pollution Control Board identified the region as a critically polluted area.

The red carpet welcome being rolled out to investments in the PCPIR region and the shifting of hazardous chemical units to Pydi Bhimavaram in Srikakulam from Hyderabad and Medak and opening of more units in Pharma City at Parawada and Hetero campus at Nakkapalli is expected to raise the concerns over safety and pollution further in future.

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