Tragedy in Vizag, Chhattisgarh, & Now Neyveli: Are Companies Following Safety Norms After Lockdown?

Social Commentary

Tragedy in Vizag, Chhattisgarh, & Now Neyveli: Are Companies Following Safety Norms After Lockdown?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Over the last couple of days, the country has been stunned by disturbing videos and headlines coming from the Vishakhapatnam and Chhattisgarh gas leaks. On Thursday, another disaster in Tamil Nadu was included on the notorious list.

A boiler explosion at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited power plant injured eight employees, and left a massive fire raging for hours in Cuddalore district. Two of the workers, who were critically injured in the blast, suffered from 70% burns as a result, the Times of India reported.

Visuals of the boiler billowing smoke at the thermal plant were shared widely on social media on Thursday, even as authorities were struggling to get a grasp on the situation.

According to reports, there has been some speculation that the power production at the plant was increased prior to the blast. But NIL authorities said safety protocols were followed. A day later, the company said they would assemble an internal six-member panel to figure out what had caused, what they called, an “unfortunate incident”.

But what makes this explosion so much worse, is the fact that the news broke on the same day as that of two separate accidents in Vishakhapatnam and Chhattisgarh.

The most horrifying of the three was a styrene gas leak from the LG polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam, which killed over 10 people and made thousands within a three-km radius fall very sick. Disturbing images and videos showing locals collapsing on the streets served as a stark reminder of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy on Thursday.

A criminal case has now been registered against the plant, and compensation has been provided to the families of those killed.

Another poisonous gas leak in a paper mill in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district, meanwhile, injured seven workers, who were reportedly cleaning an open tank after the relaxation in the lockdown in the state. The police and a forensic team are investigating further.

The three tragic incidents, compounded with a coronavirus pandemic that shows no signs of letting up anytime soon, seem to be proving those who said 2020 couldn’t get any worse wrong. As the lockdown continues to be partially lifted in several parts of the country, we can only hope that those guilty for the accidents are held responsible.