An FIR of culpable homicide has been filed against seven officials of Yashaswi Rasayan Pvt Ltd, the chemical company where an explosion caused the death of 10 workers, all of them migrant labourers and left 77 people injured on June 3.
The police complaint was filed against Atalbhai Kumar Mandal, a contractual employee, Mahesh Galchar, tank operator, Bharat Agrawal, production in charge, Dharam Thummar, the unit head, Alok Panda, in charge of keeping Dimethyl Sulphate, Mitesh Patel, the liquid storage farm area head, and Yunus Khaliwala the security in charge under sections 304, 337, 338, 203, 286, 285, 287, 427 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code that includes culpable homicide due to negligence, endangering life due to negligent action, negligence with fire or combustible material, explosives, machinery and abetting crime and giving false information.
The complaint that has been filed by VL Gagiya, in-charge Police Inspector of Dahej Marine Police Station on behalf of the Gujarat government, states that in the event leading to the blast of the tank filled with chemicals at Yashashwi Pvt Ltd that is located inside Dahej SEZ, Bharuch on June 2, Mahesh Galchar told Atalbhai Mandal to empty the two tanks that stored Nitric acid and Dimethyl Sulphate into storage tanks and asked him to attach the connecting hoses. Following which, transfer of chemicals began at around 12.30 pm when Mandal switched on the motor. However, about two hours later, when Galchar went back to check on the progress of the chemical transfer he found that the hoses had been mis-connected and that Nitric Acid was being transferred into storage container of Dimethyl Sulphate and vice versa. Galchar disconnected the hoses and informed the five accused of the same. By that time 18 ton of Nitric Acid had been mixed with 25 ton of Dimethyl Sulphate.
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The complaint goes on to state that the seven people knew about the two tanks of mixed chemicals could cause a blast yet no steps were taken to avoid it by adding neutralising agent to stop the chemical reaction in all 14 tanks in the factory. The tanks with the mixed chemicals remained as they were till June 3, when at around 12 pm, storage tank meant for Nitric Acid exploded leading to death of 10 workers, six of whom died on spot and four succumbed later during treatment. The blast also caused injuries to 77 people in the vicinity.
Noticeably, the FIR comes after Samast Bharuch Jilla Machimar Samaj, an organisation of fishermen of Bharuch, wrote to the Superintendent of Police, Collector, National Green Tribunal (NGT), Gujarat government seeking action and subsequently filed an FIR against the chemical company.
Kamlesh Madiwala, president of Samast Bharuch Jilla Machimar Samaj, stated, “The blast can have long term affects. The blaze of burning chemicals that spread post rains flowing into Narmada river will have adverse implication for the ecology and environment.”
Earlier, NGT had slapped a penalty of Rs 25 crore on Yashashwi Rasayan Pvt Ltd. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the authorities of the chemical company to deposit an amount minus the statutory compensation payments already made to the victims, if any, with the District Magistrate of Bharuch with ten days of June 8.
“The liability of the company is absolute. The amount may be disbursed by the District Magistrate by making a disbursement plan. The plan may consider safe guards to ensure the amount reaches the beneficiaries and is not misappropriated by any intermediary,” the bench held.
The NGT also constituted a six member committee headed by former High Court Judge Justice BC Patel for a detained report to be submitted in a month.
The extent of the poisonous chemicals and gases due to fire was so severe that 3,000 people from Lakhi and 1,800 people from Luvara, two neighbouring had to be evacuated.
“There were Methanol and Xylene chemical tanks near the storage tanks that exploded. Both of these chemicals are highly flammable and poisonous. We have evacuated 3.000 from Lakhi and 1,800 from Luvana village to safer places. The condition of some injured workers undergoing treatment is very critical,” Bharuch Collector told the media.
According to Bharuch District Disaster Management Department, over 200 workers, most of them migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were at the location of the factory of Yashwashwi Rasayan during the blast.