AP has learnt no lesson on industrial safety

The local licensing officer has no authority to inspect the industry whose establishment he or she has permitted

VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh government seems to have learnt no lesson with regard to ensuring industrial safety even after it witnessed a major mishap at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam during May 2020, when 11 workers lost their lives.

This has resulted in another six people dying at Porus Laboratories near Eluru on Thursday.

In both these cases, lack of compliance with safety norms by respective industry managements, especially while handling hazardous chemicals, is the cause for deaths.

Sources privy to developments in Porus Labs say even though the reactor has a pressure gauge, temperature indicator and rupture disk, they all failed to work when the temperature rose to between 160–200 degrees C, resulting in the blast.

This clearly means lack of regular maintenance and periodic checks. As of now, nobody knows when the last inspection at Porus had been carried out.

Such negligence throws focus on “Ease of Doing Business” once again. The local licensing officer has no authority to inspect the industry whose establishment he or she has permitted. Only authorised officials from other districts selected through a software application at random can carry out inspections.

This rule appears strange, as the local licensing officer will not have any clue about what observations the inspection team from the other district has made. The officer also does not know about the compliance report submitted by the firm on observations of the inspection team.

It may be recalled that the state government had ordered audit by third party experts on pharma industries. The comments of these experts must also have been reviewed by the state.

Thursday’s mishap that claimed six lives at Porus Labs points to the lacunae in the whole exercise undertaken by the state government.

Surprisingly, the erstwhile Visakhapatnam district with high concentration of hazardous industries; has only one inspector of factories physically present. Another inspector works from Srikakulam, a deputy chief inspector too works from Srikakulam and a joint chief inspector of factories works from Vijayawada.

A senior official from factories department said, “Time has come for complete overhaul of the department. All vacant posts must be filled, as temporary adjustments by way of in-charge officers undermine regular inspections at industries, especially those dealing with hazardous materials. Officials must regularly inspect hazardous industries, along with their counterparts from other stakeholder departments, to ensure industrial safety in the state.”

Next Story