Often been in news, for all wrong reasons, especially for violation of environmental and industrial safety norms, Deepak Nitrite, a chemical manufacturing factory recorded 12 blasts in its Vadodara unit.
At least 18 workers have been injured in a devastating fire accompanied by as many as 12 blasts that engulfed Vadodara-based Deepak Nitrite Company at the Nandesari industrial estate today evening.
Fire Brigade called it a Major Call and rushed to the spot. The firemen were battling the blaze for hours and many more people are believed to have been injured in the incident.
Fire Brigade officials said the fire that continued for two hours was accompanied by 12 blasts.
Thick clouds of smoke emanating from the chemical factory engulfed the entire area. Many people living and working close by ran for safety even as the fire brigade teams were dousing the flames.
NGOs and human right activists have been up in arms against Deepak Nitrite but locals says the management is close to those in power and hence not been taken to task. they claim that Deepak Nitrite gets special powers to choose their “factory inspectors” who are reportedly “looked after well” and do not bring out the truth.
A local NGO, Antarrashtriya Manavadhikar Sanrakshan Bureau (Bharat), which had demanded strict action against the company in a complaint filed on December 28, 2018, addressed to the GST Division-Vadodara, Vadodara Collector, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Central Pollution Control Board, Chief Minister and Environment Minister of Gujarat Government stating violations.
Deepaksinh Solanki, state president of the NGO, stated, “Deepak Nitrite’s Tanker no. GJ06XX8662 at 10:30 am on 26th December, 2018 was found releasing hazardous liquid into the water body of Nandesari. Our team talked to the driver and found a fake bill. The shipment address was somewhere in Kalol but the truck was found discharging acidic liquid near the GACL (Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited) company. We instantly informed Mr Gupta of GPCB-Vadodara and Mr K V Mistry of GPCB-Gandhinagar and sent a copy of the bill on their WhatsApp numbers.” The complainant has further demanded strict action against Deepak Nitrite.
This was not an isolated incident. The Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) had slapped closure orders on one of the company’s three manufacturing units in Hyderabad following directives from the courts. Deepak Nitrite manufactures DASDA (diamino stilbene disulfonic acid), a chemical used in the manufacturing of optical brightening agents (OBA), at its Hyderabad facility and the unit, for which the closure order was issued, is a processing unit.
Concerns have also been raised about the safety of the workers at the Deepak Nitrite units. Vadodara-based Jagdish Patel, who works for health and safety of workers, said, “The incidents like Thursday’s fire are glaring instances of overall systematic failure where factory inspectors are not allowed on their own to visit.”
“With as many as 40% posts of factory inspectors being vacant, it not only puts extra burden on the existing staff but also leads to lax enforcement of safety rules. And then, 90% workers among the majority of factories are contract labourers, who don’t have any knowledge about the working like the permanent ones,” he said.
Deepak Nitrite is not only notorious for its serious environmental violations and industrial safety norms but also for tax evasion. Income Tax Department sources said a raid on November 15, 2018, at the premises of the company had continued for as many as five days.