A 10-month-old girl fell unconscious allegedly after inhaling fumes from an imitation jewellery workshop in Malad on Thursday.
The fumes, coming from a drain where the workshop had discharged its waste, also killed two dogs, claimed residents, many of whom have complained of respiratory problems.
The workshop in Orlem, Malad (West), uses acid to wash the jewellery during the manufacturing process, and releases the toxic waste into a drain in the residential area, locals said.
While the Malad police said the workshop had been operating for only two days, residents of Shivgami Nagar in Orlem say it has been in existence for the last 20 years.
On Thursday, Parimala Kondar was sitting at her doorstep with her daughter Prabhadevi around 6.30pm, when the liquid waste was released into the drain. Minutes later, Prabhadevi fell unconscious. A worried Parimala rushed to her neighbours, who sprinkled water on the child but failed to revive her. She was then taken to a nearby nursing home.
Doctors at the Evershine Nagar nursing home, where the girl is recuperating, said she developed complications because of acid inhalation.
Umavati Mestry, a local, told HT: “After the liquid was discharged, two dogs died at the spot in front of my eyes. Minutes later, the girl fell unconscious. I, too, have developed chest pain.”
The chawl is occupied by at least 20 families.
“I have not been able to eat since Thursday. The pungent smell from the waste is causing us respiratory problems,” said 70-year-old Chellamma, a chawl resident.
After Prabhadevi was taken to the nursing home, the Malad police were alerted.
“The acid used by the workers was released in the sewage drain. We have registered a case against the owner,” said Arun Mane, senior inspector, Malad police station.
The owner of the unit has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. No arrests have been made so far.