Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday, August 3, ordered a safety audit in all industrial units in the state.The order comes in the wake of the suspected gas leak in the Brandix SEZ at Atchutapuram in Anakapalli district on Tuesday, August 2, in which some 95 workers of an apparel-manufacturing unit fell sick. It was the second time in two years that the Chief Minister has ordered the audit — the first one was ordered after the LG Polymers tragedy near Visakhapatnam that left 12 people dead and nearly 600 ill.
The Chief Minister directed that a high-level committee be constituted to probe into the causes of the gas leak in the Brandix SEZ. Apart from establishing the cause of the leak, focus should also be on preventing such incidents in the future, he said. Besides, a safety audit should also be conducted in all industries across the state, the Chief Minister told the officials.
This was the second such incident in two months, where a gas leak from a nearby chemical industry left workers in the apparel manufacturing unit sick with nausea and vomiting. On June 3, over 300 women workers of Seeds Intimate Apparel India Private Limited fell unconscious in similar circumstances but there were no deaths.
On August 4, 2020, the state government ordered a special drive for full-scale inspection of all industrial units to ensure compliance with safety protocols in the backdrop of a spate of major accidents that claimed lives, particularly in the port city Visakhapatnam. A seven-member committee, headed by the Joint Collector (Welfare), was formed in each district to carry out the special drive within 90 days, with the involvement of officials from Factories Department, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Boilers Department, Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department, Director of Electrical Safety and Chief Electrical Inspector (Energy Department).
After the styrene vapour leak in LG Polymers unit in May 2020, a High-Power Committee headed by Special Chief Secretary (Environment) Neerabh Kumar Prasad had recommended a series of steps to be taken by various government departments to prevent such mishaps in future. “Based on these recommendations, we decided there is an immediate need to organise a special drive of inspections for ensuring compliance with all safety protocols and environmental norms by all industrial units,” Special Chief Secretary (Industries) Karikal Valaven had said then.
Thereafter, there has been not a word from the Industries Department on the inspections and the findings. Neither Industries Minister Gudivada Amarnath nor the Special Chief Secretary responded to queries on the audit.
The opposition parties have been vociferous in their criticism of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government over its alleged failure to prevent such mishaps. Member of Legislative Council (MLC) and Telugu Desam Party general secretary Nara Lokesh alleged that the Jagan Mohan Reddy government was “not waking up from its deep slumber” though such mishaps were occurring repeatedly.