We, the survivors of Union Carbide’s gassing of Bhopal, have always feared that an economic system that continues to favour gain over planetary life and wellbeing would bring another Bhopal to another innocent and unsuspecting city. A political system that places the rights of corporations to break laws, pollute and plunder over the human rights to life and security will inevitably kill and maim again, and on a scale that cannot be hidden or denied.
Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad, November 12, 2006
Three sisters died in gas leak in a factory in GIDC estate in Ankleshwar town of Bharuch district. These sisters worked in Narmada Chemicals which was closed at the time of incident.
Two sisters had gone for bath in the factory. However, they started shouting and by the time the third sister reached there the two were faint. Before the third girl could understand anything she also fell down.
On hearing the shouts, the father of these girls Deep Singh reached the spot. They were taken to the hospital where two were found dead and the third one died after sometime.
TIMES NEWS NETWORK, NOVEMBER 13, 2006
BHARUCH: Three labourers working in Narmada Oil ETL located in Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) of Ankleshwar died under mysterious circumstances on Sunday morning. The trio, identified as Kasma Garwal (18), Kamila Garwal (19) and Anu Garwal (7) died on their way to the hospital.
The deceased were working as labourers in the company for last few months. The victims had gone to take a bath when the incident occurred. The company was closed for the last 10 years and was recently purchased by a local person.
Earlier, gas leakage was suspected to be the reason behind the deaths, officials of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), who rushed to the spot, said there was no gas leakage.
“It is still a mystery how these people died. There is no possibility of gas leakage. No production activity is going on inside the place,” said GPCB regional officer of Bharuch, V R Gadge.
Most companies surrounding Narmada Oil have also been closed for quite sometime.
When asked whether the effluent-carrying drainage line passing just behind Narmada Oil may have caused the leakage, Gadge said, “A team of GPCB officials have looked into all possible angles and there is no gas leakage.” The matter is also being investigated by Bharuch police.
A chlorine leak at 6 p.m. on 18 July, 2004, from a pipeline running between Chemplast Sanmar’s chlorine plant and its adjacent fumed silica plant in Mettur Dam, Tamilnadu, sent 23 people to the hospital. More than 50 people are reported to have fainted after inhaling the chlorine fumes. A 22-day old child, and two young girls aged 10 and 13 are among those hospitalised.
A few years ago, shrapnel from an explosion at Chemplast’s fumed silica plant barely missed chemical storage tanks in Chemplast’s neighbouring facilities.
On 11 April, 2004, a contract worker in Birla-owned TANFAC in Cuddalore, was poisoned on the job and subsequently succumbed to his injuries on 30 April. No compensation has been paid to his widow. Rather, the bereaved family is subject to daily harassment by local labour contractors.
On 6 July, 2004, a fire at an endosulfan unit in Kerala-based Hindustan Insecticides Ltd caused a smoke plume that covered more than 250 households. On 9 July, 2004, a boiler explosion at a dyeing unit in Erode, Tamilnadu, killed four workers.
Despite demands by citizens for publication of onsite and offsite emergency plans as required by the Factories Act and the Manufacture, Storage, Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules (1989), regulators have exhibited remarkable restraint in implementing the laws in a bid to protect the corporations.
As the largest private company in the small town, Chemplast is reported to have the district authorities, including the police, under its control. The company’s plans to set up a hazardous PVC factory in Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, was shelved after local residents gathered in numbers to drive the investment out. The PVC factory proposal was given a similarly hostile reception in Krishnapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, where more than 2000 local fishermen and farmers came to protest the investment at a Government-held public hearing.
The factory proposal is pending approval at the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board. The company’s powerful ties locally are evident from the fact that even otherwise independent publications like The Hindu refuse to carry articles about the company’s wrong doings or people’s opposition to the company’s pollution.
More on the Chemplast gas leak as updates arrive.