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Gas and its source remain a riddle

MORE THAN 24 hours after residents of three villages in neighbouring Raisen district were affected by a suspected poisonous gas, the MP Pollution Control Board authorities were groping in the dark about the gas and the source of leak. The only hint that the authorities could provide, based on the clinical symptoms of the patients, was that the gas seemed to be either chlorine or ammonia or sulphur dioxide.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 15:07 IST

MORE THAN 24 hours after residents of three villages in neighbouring Raisen district were affected by a suspected poisonous gas, the MP Pollution Control Board authorities were groping in the dark about the gas and the source of leak. The only hint that the authorities could provide, based on the clinical symptoms of the patients, was that the gas seemed to be either chlorine or ammonia or sulphur dioxide.

The State Government appointed a one-man committee of Principal Secretary, Housing and Environment Department, PD Meena that will inquire into the suspected gas leak. The committee will submit its report in a month’s time. It will find out the type of gas, source of the leak, whose negligence led to the incident and who was responsible for it

A magisterial probe was also ordered into the suspected gas leak, according to an agency report from Raisen. Additional District Magistrate A S Shukla has been asked to conduct the probe, District Collector Arun Kumar Bhatt said.

MPPCB member secretary B K Singh said any specific information would come after detailed analysis of the air and water samples collected from the villages. 

The MPPCB teams that inspected industrial units at Mandideep, including Som Distilleries, on Sunday found that prima facie the units seemed to be in the clean.

“Our teams comprising superintendent engineers and chief scientist conducted a detailed inspection of about a dozen industries which could be suspected of producing these gases. But found prima facie that no incident pointing to leak had occurred,’’ Singh told the Hindustan Times. He, however, said  detailed reports of inspections were being compiled and would be finalised by Tuesday.

He said he had visited the Som Distilleries on Saturday night but did not conclude anything. Another team was sent to the unit on Sunday, but found nothing suspicious. Similarly, other units were also thoroughly inspected by Sunday evening. Compilation of the individual detailed reports has started. The Industrial Health and Safety Department officers accompanied the MPPCB officers during the inspection.

Singh said if the gas had not leaked from any industrial unit,  chances of burning of some poisonous thing in garbage dump or leak of tear gas could have affected the villagers.

“But nothing can be said unless the result of chemical analysis of the air and water samples collected from the villages comes in,’’ he concluded.

ONE-MAN COMMITTEE: The PD Meena Committee will look into the reasons of the suspected gas leak that affected more than 300 residents of villages Mendua, Nayapura and Tirath Nagar on Saturday evening. The residents had complained of irritation in eyes and vomiting.

The panel will also look into facts such as whether the district administration, health services and police administration took adequate and prompt steps after the incident.

The committee will also look into the reasons of death of four-year-old Ashfaq, the son of Shabbir Khan of village Mendua on Saturday night. It will also suggest measures to prevent recurrence of any such accident in future. Officers of the MP Pollution Control Board and the Industrial Health and Safety Department will assist Meena in conducting the inquiry.