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Chemical factory blast: 3 killed, 100 injured as violations go unnoticed

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

A calm and quiet part of Dombivli in Thane district near Mumbai was rocked by a huge blast at a chemical industry site on Thursday morning. According to police sources, five persons were killed and over 100 injured in the blast. The number of casualties is likely to increase. The blast took place at around 11.30 am local time. The intensity of the blast was so high that it was heard as far as four kilometres from the spot.

The residential buildings around the industrial area suffered huge losses due to the tremors. Several buildings in the vicinity developed cracks and window panes were shattered, due to the blast. Apart from the residential buildings, three adjoining industries were reduced to debris, due to the blast. Vehicles, hand carts and bullock carts, parked along the road, also suffered huge damages due to the blast. The blast took place at Acharya Chemicals Private Limited, Phase II, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Dombivli.

Ashwin Aghor/Catch New
Ashwin Aghor/Catch News

On being informed, the fire brigade and police officials rushed to the spot and started the rescue operations. Joint Commissioner of Police, Thane Ashutosh Dumbre said, "Prima facie it appears that the trigger was a LPG cylinder blast. There were a few LPG cylinders stored on the premises of the company which exploded one after the other leading to the major blast of boiler installed nearby."

The authorities are trying to ascertain the exact number of casualties and injuries, he added. However, sources said that three people succumbed to the injuries, while more than 100 have been injured and admitted to various hospitals in Dombivli. It was after two hours of efforts that the fire was doused.

Citizens respond

Raju Nalawade, a resident of Milap Nagar in Dombivli said, "Almost all the industries have violated construction rules and installed boilers and reactors in margin area. This is a serious violation and the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to this. No action has been taken against them despite repeated complaints." There is a school close to the factory.

"Fortunately there was no one in the school due to vacations and a major tragedy was avoided," he continued. The violations are going on right under the nose of MIDC officials who are mandated to enforce the rules. "Now as eyewash, some heads will roll and government will pretend to have taken strict action against the culprits. But situation will come back to square one and 'business as usual' will continue," Nalawade said.

Anjali Bondre, a senior citizen living in Milap Nagar was preparing for lunch. Suddenly the entire building suffered tremors and window panes of her flat shattered. Afraid to the core, Bondre tried to figure out what was happening. "It was around 11.30 am that suddenly the entire building shook and window panes shattered while preparing for lunch. I couldn't understand what was happening. Later it was revealed that it was a blast in nearby chemical company," she said.

Ashwin Aghor/Catch News
Ashwin Aghor/Catch News

After the blast, political statements were raining from all directions. Everyone is making tall claims to take stern action against the culprits. But no one is answering the basic question as to why the authorities concerned did not act in time. Not only the politicians, but also the MIDC officials, evaded the questions pertaining to violations of construction norms. "According to our information more than 100 people have been admitted to various hospitals. I will not talk on construction norms violations by industries," said superintending engineer, MIDC, Dombivli SS Jagtap.

Ravindra Chavhan, MLA from Dombivli, squarely blamed the industries for the blast. "It is nothing but the errant industries. They don't have any regard for the rules. All the industries which have violated the rules must be shut down," he said.

The Member of Parliament (MP) from the area, Dr Shrikant Shinde, was completely in the dark about violations. When asked about the same, he said that strict actions will be taken against the guilty after thorough investigations. Though the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted expressing grief about the incident, he did not respond to the questions on violations of construction rules.

Edited by Sahil Bhalla

First published: 26 May 2016, 8:25 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.