Kakinada MP V.Geetha, Former minister K.Kannababu and Kakinada district Collector Kritika Shukla console the Kendriya Vidyalaya students, who were seriously ill, at the Government hospital in Kakinada on Tuesday. (Photo By Arrangement)
VIJAYAWADA: Ammonia gas leak from nearby ice plants is suspected to have made several students of Kendriya Vidyalaya in Kakinada fall ill on Tuesday.
There are two low-scale ice plants near the vidyalaya that use ammonia for refrigeration. Given the symptoms of students who fell sick in the school, it is believed leakage of ammonia from any one of the plants for a brief period may have been the cause.
As news of students falling ill spread, the ice plants might have taken steps to stop the leakage of gas on their premises. That is the reason why only 18 of over 400 students of the school exhibited symptoms.
Incidentally, when there had been ammonia gas leak at Nekkanti Sea Foods in Peddapuram during 2016, workers showed symptoms of breathlessness, vomiting and reeling sensation, indications that KV students too showed.
Kakinada district medical and health officer in-charge Dr. R. Ramesh said, "As many as 18 students with symptoms of breathlessness and reeling had been admitted to the government hospital on Tuesday. We have discharged two students on Wednesday while keeping the other 16 under medical observation. Their health is stable. They are taking their food and have no issues. Their blood and urine samples have been sent for analysis to a lab in Hyderabad."
The factories department in the interim ruled out any gas leak from the nearby fertilisers companies. Kakinada deputy inspector of factories D. Radha Krishna said, "The students started falling sick from 9:30 a.m. onwards. We carried out gas-detection checks in the school premises at 11:30 a.m. and found no ammonia or carbon monoxide in the air. This indicates that there had been no leakage of gas. If there had been a gas leak from nearby factories, it would have affected more students."
Industry experts, however, maintain that even if there had been a gas leak, it would not have been in the air in the school premises, as the gas would have dissipated in two hours before the factory department carried out its test. Experts point out that when students opened the windows of their classrooms, some of them started feeling better.
Kakinada district collector Kritika Shukla too in a statement ruled out any leakage of poisonous gas affecting students of Kendriya Vidyalaya, based on reports from factories and pollution control board authorities. She also negated reports of food adulteration being cause for students’ illness.
The collector maintained that blood samples of affected students have been sent for analysis. The actual reason will be known once these reports are available.
The KV incident has also brought into focus the integrated offsite emergency plan prepared for erstwhile East Godavari district in 2018 for dealing with emergency situations deftly without panic.