16 workers injured in Mohali factory blast

The blast took place in a chemical reactor of the pharmaceutical company Nectar Lifesciences at Saidpura village in Dera Bassi subdivision
Published on Aug 25, 2019 12:07 AM IST
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By, Mohali

Sixteen workers were injured — five of them critically — in a blast in a chemical reactor of a pharmaceutical company at Saidpura village in Dera Bassi subdivision of Punjab’s Mohali district on Saturday.

The firm, Nectar Lifesciences, is engaged in the production of generic drug products. The blast took place on the first floor of the plant that manufactures salts for multivitamin tablets.  

The intensity of the blast was such that a portion of the two-storey building collapsed. The factory management and the district administration are looking into its cause.

Around 28 employees were working in the plant when the mishap took place around 3:30pm.

“We heard a loud sound and saw the building collapsing amid shrieks. Soon the entire premises was filled with debris,” said Sukhwinder Singh, a tea vendor who runs his kiosk there.

“Sixteen of the workers were injured in the mishap,” said factory general manager Paramjit Singh.

The injuries have been attributed to either burns or to fall of debris. They were rushed to hospitals with the help of locals.

Five critically injured

Five workers with critical burn injuries have been moved to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. One of them, identified as Anup, 22, is battling for his life with 90% burns. He was pulled out of the debris after two hours and has been unconscious.

Others are Amit Kumar (70%), Jasbir Singh (55%), Anil Singh (50%) and Ashwani (45%).

Three others — Surinder, Ramesh and Om Parkash — have been admitted to the Dera Bassi civil hospital with minor burns. Three — Vivek, Sushat Kumar and Intezar Khan — are undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Zirakpur, while five — Om Parkash, Suresh Kumar, Jagat Pal, Shibu and Akashdeep — have been discharged.

Dera Bassi subdivisional magistrate Pooja Syal said the plant was shut down immediately after the blast to facilitate rescue work. The district administration pressed all its available resources to rescue those stuck in the debris, she said. Fire officials said the blast also triggered a minor fire, but it was brought under control immediately. Two fire tenders were rushed to the spot.

Removing the debris remained the biggest challenge. The factory management reported none of the employees missing after the rescue operations came to an end in the evening.

“The cause of explosion is under investigation. I have marked an inquiry to the SDM,” said Mohali deputy commissioner Girish Dayalan.

Minutes before the chemical reactor blast on Saturday, two tankers filled with chemicals had reached the plant. Three small reactors had also exploded and their parts fell on one of the tankers parked on the factory premises. Owing to this, chemicals had started leaking from it, but it was plugged in time before it could cause any more damage

Nectar Lifesciences was among 57 factories directed to be closed by the National Green Tribunal in October 2018. It was found flouting groundwater standards and discharging untreated effluents into the river. However, it got a stay on the order and reopened.

In June 2016, one of its units was gutted, though no casualty was reported. A blast owing to high temperature in the solvent recovery unit had triggered the fire. Prior to this, at least six minor incidents of fire had been reported already.

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