Vizag Pharma City A Virtual Death Zone

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls for a comprehensive investigation into and criminal prosecution of plant management for the death of two persons and injuries to several others in a gas leak at the Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd pharmaceutical plant in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

This accident once again underlines the extremely disquieting situation in respect of industrial safety in Visakhapatnam. The Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City has become a virtual death zone with employees dying at regular intervals due to mishaps. There have been countless accidents in various plants in the Pharma City over the past decade resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries to many. We recall a reactor blast in Sainor Life Sciences itself on September 28, 2015 in which two persons, a pharmacist and his assistant, perished and five others were injured. We also recall officials of the Inspectorate of Factories alleging on that occasion that Sainor was operating without the mandatory no-objection certification.

The reasons why people are succumbing with fatal regularity to such accidents are quite evident. There is an overall lack of safety culture with preventive measures and safety inspection systems being inadequate and ineffective. There is pathetic regulation and enforcement of safety norms and environmental law. All this, despite many of these plants being major hazard installations.

These factories, both private entities as well as public sector units like the HPCL, spew toxins into the air on a regular basis, pollute the land and water bodies in the area as well as pump poison into the sea and in general pose a serious on-site and off-site hazard. Regulatory authorities like the AP Pollution Control Board and the Factories Inspectorate are corrupt entities whose officials are compromised and complicit with these crimes.

Industrial establishments in and around the city are known for non-adherence to norms and are often in open contempt of the law. Yet there has been no criminal prosecution of either plant managements or officials of regulatory bodies and consequently there has been virtually no deterrence. It is close to two months since the horrific styrene leak from LG Polymers took place and till date not a single plant official has been arrested. Senior district officials, obsessed with ‘ease of doing business’, have only stood by and been silent spectators to this unabashed criminality.

VS Krishna 
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)

K Sudha
(HRF State general secretary)


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