Villagers are demanding closure of the Porus Labs. They claim that its presence was causing more harm to the people and the village. (File photo)
Vijayawada: The state government has neither fixed responsibility nor taken action on officials who failed to ensure that safety norms were complied with at Porus Laboratories Private Limited at Akkireddygudem of Musunuru mandal in Eluru district where a reactor exploded killing six and injuring 12 persons late on Wednesday.
Villagers are demanding closure of the factory. They claim that its presence was causing more harm to the people and the village. They are also demanding the top brass of the factory visit their village and explain why the factory must be allowed to continue.
The villagers sought fixing responsibility on officials who failed to ensure the factory complied with safety norms.
Comparing the mishap to the one at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam in May, 2020 that claimed 11 lives and the response of the government by announcing ex gratia of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the deceased and suspension of a senior factory official, the villagers resented that the state government was not reacting in the same way except announcing an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the kin of the deceased and ordering closure of the factory on temporary basis pending further inquiry.
The villagers are insisting that their demands be met during the visit of government officials and public representatives to their village as they also lost one person from the village in the blast.
Akkireddygudem gram panchayat secretary Yohan said, "The chemical factory was set up some 25 to 30 years ago after modifying a sugar factory in about five acres of land and it is surrounded by a residential area. Nearly 100 to 150 local villagers get employment either as daily wages or on regular basis from the factory and the gram panchayat gets Rs 5 lakh annually as tax. It is true the villagers are demanding closure of the factory and seeking to meet the factory top brass. When villagers complained that some villagers and livestock were dying due to water pollution from the factory a few years ago, no proof was found after analysis of water in the labs."
On the other hand, factories department sources claimed that even as a safety audit on all hazardous industries was carried out in September 2020 in the state following LG Polymers mishap, there seemed to be drawbacks on safety at the Porus Lab that resulted in the reactor blast.
They allege corruption and favouritism in the department with regard to posting of officials in places of their choice for pecuniary gains at the cost of compromising industrial safety. They further allege lack of coordination among stakeholders departments to keep regular vigil especially on all hazardous industries in the state to avoid any mishaps in future.