190 women reported sick and most of them were released after first aid given at the company hospital. Many have been admitted to Achyutapuram and Anakapalli hospitals. (Photos by Arrangement)
Visakhapatnam: Hundreds of women workers fell sick when they inhaled suspected ammonia gas at Brandix Apparel India City in the SEZ at Atchyutapuram in Anakapalli district, about 35 km from here, on Friday morning.
A representative of the Brandix complex said 190 women reported sick and most of them were released after first aid given at the company hospital. Many have been admitted to Achyutapuram and Anakapalli hospitals.
"The gas did not emanate from the factory. Since none of the units and air conditioning system use ammonia, it might have come from other units located close to the SEZ,’’ a company spokesperson told DC.
Inspector of factories Satyanarayana said a team of officials were deployed to identify the source of the gas and confirm whether it was ammonia or some other gas.
He said the workers inhaled gas at about 11.30am at Brandix Intimate Ltd, formerly known as Quantum Seeds. Immediately they were sent to the in-house clinic and the factory operations were halted. Most of the victims were later admitted to the Achyutapuram PHC and the NTR Hospital in Anakapalli. Their condition was stable.
"They had suffocation and felt vomiting sensation soon after inhaling the gas,’’ a senior police officer said.
"Porus is located 1.5km away and they do not use Ammonia. The other unit close by is the effluent treatment plant one km away from Brandix. The ETP will have a mix of all gases," the factory inspector said.
"The leak was for a short duration and it is difficult to identify the gas. Initially there was talk about ammonia leakage, which is yet to be confirmed,’’ said joint chief engineer of AP Pollution Control Board, Rajendra Reddy.
Industries minister Gudivada Amarnath said a committee has been formed to ascertain the source of the leak and identify the gas. "The team will have joint collector of Anakapalli, inspector of factories, executive engineer of pollution control board and ASP of Anakapalli as its members,’’ the minister said.
Brandix has 22,000 employees on its rolls, of which 18,000 are women.
From Delhi, chief minister Jagan Reddy inquired about the gas leak incident and sought details from the authorities. CMO officials explained the likely reasons. The district collector immediately went to oversee the relief efforts. The CM asked the officials to provide better treatment to the victims.
The CM also ordered a detailed investigation and asked the relevant authorities to take steps for avoiding such mishaps in future. He asked industries minister to visit the accident site.
Expressing concern, former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said all necessary medical treatment should be given to the affected workers. The government should take stringent action against those responsible for the gas leak, he said in a statement here.
The TD chief said the managements and the government were not learning any lesson even after there was huge loss of lives in the LG Polymers factory in Vizag. The failure of the government departments and absence of monitoring have become a curse to the public.
TD general secretary Nara Lokesh condemned the government for its "lack of concern" for the safety of the workers. Instead of boasting about having given a `1 crore compensation for the deaths in the LG gas tragedy, the CM should take steps to prevent industrial accidents in future, he said.