Four workers have been killed and 20 others injured after a chemical container burst at a Sachin GIDC based Anupam Rasayan India Limited’s chemical factory in Surat.
The dead workers include one from Gujarat, two from Bihar and one from Uttar Pradesh. Serious questions are being raised about fire safety in Gujarat. From hospitals to coaching classes, factories to hotels, callousness towards fire safety are claiming lives in Gujarat. The Anupam Rasayan fire is an example of this. Despite strict instructions from Gujarat High Court, fire safety in Gujarat remains largely an unattended issue. In this latest fire incident, a chemical boiler with a compromised safety valve is believed to be the reason behind the blast.
According to Surat Chief Fire Officer Basant Pareek, the fire started after a chemical container exploded. “A charred body was found in the factory at night, while the bodies of three other missing workers were found in the factory premises on Sunday,” Police Inspector DV Baldaniya told Vibes of India. The Management tried to downplay the tragedy. The Surat Fire department and police sprung into quick action but even 15 fire fighters could douse the fire only after two and half hours.
In a statement issued by a PR agency, the Anupam Rasayan company said that the cause of the fire was being investigated and the workers were their priority. However they also insensitively said “we are trying to assess the damage and will take appropriate actions to operationalise the plant shortly.” Worse, they said, “we are covered for the loss of assets and loss of profits under insurance.” This has largely irked government officials and injured workers’ families. The workers and their families were shocked that Anupam Rasayan was more concerned about loss of assets and profits under insurance than the lives of the poor workers. The worker’s union lambasted the owners and directors of Anupam Rasayan claiming that all their fire safety claims were mockery and only cosmetic in nature. Owners and directors of this Gujarat based company are Hetul Krishnakant Mehta, Anand Sureshbhai Desai, Vinesh Prabhakar Sadekar, Milan Ramesh Thakkar, Vijay Kumar Batra, Mona Anandbhai Desai, Kiran Chhotubhai Patel and Dr Namrata Dharmendra Jariwala. Anand Desai is the Managing Director of the Company. Vibes of India tried to get in touch with Anand Desai but he whatsapped asking Vo! to talk to his Public Relations agency.
Rashtriya Mazdoor Sena president Suresh Sonawane has demanded a police complaint against the owners and directors of Anupam Rasayan. They should be booked for murder, he told Vibes of India.He claimed that the management of the chemical factory tried to hide the death figure at the Surat Civil Hospital initially and were just interested in damage control and perception management of their factory rather than being bothered about the lives of the poor workers. The congress has demanded a SIT inquiry and a compensation. “The compensation will not suffice. Anupam Rasayan is a listed company and to teach the importance of fire safety, the owners and directors should be sent to jail”, a worker said.
“It is only after we protested that they revealed the real death figure”, Suresh Soawane claimed. Sonawane said if an impartial inquiry is initiated, it would reveal several flaws. “The safety officer has to remain present and check the pressure meter, the reactor point and other important aspects. But what is shown on papers is just cosmetic. The reality is different”, a factory worker said. According to sources, there were serious issues with the safety valve of the boiler which burst killing four and injuring over 20 workers.
The Company has six manufacturing sites. The fire erupted at its factory based out of a GIDC in Sachin, Surat in South Gujarat. According to the fire department, a defective boiler could be a reason for the fatal blast. Anupam Rasayan India Ltd. is a listed company and this life science company prides in heralding innovations in the industry. “We are one of the leading custom manufacturers of Specialty Chemicals, Advance Intermediates and Active Ingredients in the fields of Agro Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care, our major MNC customers across Europe, USA and Japan. With a skilled and hardworking workforce of more than 2000+ employees, our organization is composed of PhDs, Chemical, Mechanical and Electrical engineers, Science Graduates and qualified safety officers as well as workers.”, the Company says in its description. Ironically the Company claims that it believes in values and principles of trust and commitment and is one of the most reliable companies internationally. “This company deals with a lot of multi-nationals. We have heard that American, Japanese and European companies do not tolerate discrimination and lack of safety protocols. We are shattered and have nowhere to go, a family member of a UP worker told Vibes of India saying that before the news spread, the Company wanted to “manage” things.
The dead include Ankur Suresh Patel (33 years old) ,Prabhat Dharmendra Jha((23), Rakesh Chaudhry (37) and Sanjay Govind Siyora (28 years). Prabhat and Rakesh were from Bihar while Sanjay was from Uttar Pradesh.The injured include Vishal Jasubhai, Kaushal Virendra Gohil, Jatin Thakorbhai Patel, Rakesh Danabhai, Jaykumar Kishor Desai, Rakesh Rajendra Soni, Jayraj Sinh Rajendrasinh Takor, Sachin Dilip Ingle, Gajanand Ramesh,Ajeetkumar Devanand,Girendra Sharda Jha, Sheyas Kiran Patel,Govind Mahendra Rai, Guru Dayal Singh,Shubham Yuvraj, Vinay Kamal Kishore,Arun Santosh Patil, Vinay Kamalkishor Kushwah, Arun Santosh Patil,Govind Rajiv Rai and Jitendra Dinanath. The Company stock price was listed at Rs 786.55 paise on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The price is likely to dip on Monday when the stock markets open.
Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia has demanded an impartial inquiry into the reasons behind the blast and a compensation of Rs ten lacs each for the kith and kin of the dead workers. Surat Congress president Hasmukh Desai told Vibes of India that he will make an official representation to the government authorities on Monday and demand a SIT inquiry into the matter. We want a compensation of Rs five lacs for each of the injured workers, he said. ‘Compensation alone will not suffice. All the owners and directors of this company should be arrested,” he added.