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Blasts near Mumbai: Barc fire officer booked for ignoring collector’s call

Palghar collector says lives could have been saved if Barc and Tarapur Atomic Power Station had sent foam tenders on time

mumbai Updated: Mar 10, 2018 20:49 IST
Three people died and 15 were injured in the blasts that took place on Thursday night.(HT FILE)

The Boisar MIDC police have registered an FIR against the fire officer of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Tarapur for allegedly ignoring the Palghar district collector’s call to rush fire personnel to quell the raging blasts in a pharma unit in Boisar MIDC on Thursday night.

Vikas Gajre, sub-divisional magistrate, Palghar had lodged a police complaint in the matter on the orders of Palghar district collector Dr Prashant Narnaware. The FIR has been registered against Suhas Sambhaji Borkar, the fire officer of Barc, Tarapur.

Three workers died and 15 were injured due to a series of blasts in the unit, causing damages to at least six nearby chemical units in the chemical zone of the Boisar MIDC.

Dr Narnaware said, “As the chief of the District Disaster Management team (DDM), I had called the BARC fire brigade and the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) fire brigade to rush their state-of-the-art foam tenders to the site. But Borkar of the Barc fire brigade told me that he had to seek permission from his superiors to rush the tenders, while the TAPS did not bother to send the fire tender.”

Senior police inspector Prakash Birajdar of Boisar MIDC police station confirmed an FIR has been registered against Borkar. “It is a non-bailable offence and we will arrest Borkar shortly,” said the official.

Dr Narnaware said, “This is a violation under Section 56 and 57 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 as per law, I can order the nearest agency to help us in case of a calamity, and the agency has to comply with the order.”

The collector said Thursday’s blasts were no ordinary fire, but a huge chemical fire, and only water could not douse the flames. Dr Narnaware said that in such cases, foam tenders are required, and such machines are with the Taps and Barc, but no one had responded when he asked the agencies to send the foam tenders.

“The MIDC fire brigade had just two foam tenders, which was not enough, and we had to call tenders from Vasai, Thane, Bhiwandi, Reliance Thermal, Dahanu and Palghar civic tenders to douse the flames, and had the Barc and Taps sent their tenders on time, some damages or lives could have been saved,” said Dr Narnaware. He termed the incident as “inhumane”.

The collector said he had to send some officers from the Boisar MIDC police to BARC to fetch Borkar. However, on seeing the police, the TAPS fire tender was rushed to the spot, when the fire was nearly doused, he said. “And we needed them when the fire was raging,” he added.

There was no response from Dashrath Dogra, media officer, Barc. A message to his mobile phone and calls to his office went unanswered.

Dr Narnaware said a show cause notice has been issued to H Dhawad, joint director (safety), director of industrial safety and health (Dish), Vasai over “lapses in the blasts”. “We have asked him to reply to our notice within five days and after the reply is received, we will take further action and if we are not satisfied with the reply, an FIR will also likely to be registered against Dish,” Dr Narnaware said.

Dhawad said he has not received any notice.

Vikas Gajre, sub-divisional magistrate, Palghar is looking into the matter, Dr Narnaware said.

“In fact, we had conducted a meeting post a huge fire in Wada taluka, where officials from MIDC, MPCB, DISH and others were present and we asked them to check for any loopholes in the chemical units, as there are 1,100 hazardous chemical units in Boisar MIDC alone,” the collector said. But it seems none of the agencies bothered to check or conduct audit of the chemical units, and Thursday night’s incident is a recent example, he said.

Assistant police inspector Kishore Shinde of Boisar MIDC police station said a case of accidental death has been registered with them and they are awaiting the post-mortem report of the three victims. “We will take the statements of the injured after they are discharged from the hospital. We are also awaiting the report from Dish, Vasai and later an FIR will be registered once we receive the report,” said Shinde.

Meantime, the toll in the blasts stood at three dead. Fifteen workers are still admitted in three private hospitals in Boisar while one worker, Nackched Singh, is in a coma and admitted in a Mira Road hospital, the police said.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 20:49 IST