ANANTAPUR: Negligence and lack of life-saving equipment, poor monitoring of workers’ safety were found to be the reasons for the gas leakage at Gerdau Steel Pvt Ltd at Tadipatri in Anantapur district in the preliminary inquiry conducted by a three-member committee, constituted by the district administration on Friday.
The committee comprising revenue, police, and fire service department officials took up an investigation into the accident that happened on Thursday. Six workers had died in the gas leak and two were hospitalized
The committee visited the factory premises and inspected the area where the gas leak was reported. “The committee found that no safety measures were taken in the rolling mill, where dangerous gas like carbon monoxide is used. In those areas, where only technicians are permitted to operate, non-technical persons were allowed,” Anantapur RDO M Malola told mediapersons.
When contacted by TNIE, deputy chief inspector of factories D Radha Krishna said they had found that workers were allowed without proper safety equipment and there was no supervisor accompanying them. “The equipment to monitor the carbon monoxide levels which is normally carried while going near the rolling furnace, was not carried by the workers. We are still inquiring into the matter and will submit a detailed report to higher-ups shortly,” he explained.
Superintendent of Police GVG Ashok Kumar said they had registered a case under section 304(A) (Causing death by negligence) and took up the investigation.
“Based on the investigation report and findings of the three-member committee constituted by the district administration, we will take necessary action against those responsible for the accident,” he told TNIE.
Meanwhile, the two workers who were admitted to the Anantapur Government Hospital on Thursday were shifted to a private hospital.
Family members of the two workers claimed that they were not provided any safety equipment and were not warned of the danger in the furnace room. The two workers refused to speak to mediapersons.
Meanwhile, no official announcement was made regarding ex gratia to the families of the victims. Early in the morning, in a meeting with factory workers, Amar Prasad, factory in-charge (commercial department) announced that the management would pay an ex gratia of Rs 15 lakh each to the families of the deceased. However, later in the evening, speaking to mediapersons, steel plant managing director Sridharan Krishnamurthy said they had yet to take a decision on ex gratia.
“The incident was unfortunate. We will ensure that such incidents do not recur. We are investigating the accident on our own apart from cooperating with the police investigation. A decision regarding ex gratia will be taken in a couple of days,” he said.
Tension prevailed for some time at the factory premises on Friday morning with YSRC and Left parties leaders staging a protest demanding Rs 50 lakh as an ex gratia. Police arrested YSRC Tadipatri coordinator K Pedda Reddy and others. They were shifted to Tadipatri police station. Meanwhile, Anantapur MP JC Diwakar Reddy who announced Rs 1 lakh each as ex gratia to the families of the victims from ahis personal funds, visited the factory.
He told mediapersons that efforts would be made to provide jobs for the family members of the victims. Condoling the deaths of the workers in the steel factory, Janasena chief Pawan Kalyan demanded an inquiry into the incident to find out whether safety measures were in place.