Gas leak at Turbhe plant, 20 women hospitalised

The workers were having food sitting in the same room where the leakage took place; owner has been booked for negligence in handling hazardous chemicals

Gas leak at Turbhe plant, 20 women hospitalised

Mumbai : Twenty female workers of a fish processing and exporting unit were hospitalised on Sunday after an ammonia gas leak at their unit at Turbhe in Navi Mumbai.

Two of them had to be admitted to the ICU at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation Hospital, the police said. They are out of danger.

The gas leak took place on the first floor of Hirawati International Pvt Ltd cold storage around 8.30 pm on Sunday. Inspector Vijay Lawade of APMC police station said four of the workers appeared to be minors.

Ramesh Banjare, owner of the company, has been charged under IPC Section 284, 336, 337, 338, which deal with negligence in handling hazardous chemicals.

In 2010, a similar gas leak led to the hospitalisation of 58 workers at a fish processing and exporting unit at Navi Mumbai. Then, too, there were several minors among the workers.

“The workers were having food sitting in the same room where the leakage took place. After the smell got worse, one of them went downstairs to inform the management,” said Lawade.

“Within minutes, those who were on the first floor felt chest pain and eye burning and they started vomiting,” said senior police inspector D Bhong.

Professor BV Bhosle, who teaches Informal Sector at Mumbai University, said such accidents are not new to the Navi Mumbai industrial area. According to him, neither labour laws nor safety procedures are followed in such units.

 “Over two kilos of ammonia leaked from the factory. But now we have undertaken all the necessary steps to assure that the area is safe,” said Y B Sontakke, regional officer of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. He said that the cause for the leak was being probed.

A victim whom this correspondent contacted over the phone said that they had no masks or gloves. She also said they had no insurance but did not want to be identified for fear of losing her job.

Swati Jha

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