BENGALURU: In one of the worst cases of water contamination in recent times, as many as 270 women from Silver Crest Clothing Factory in Sarjapura fell ill that led the Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner KA Dayanand to put a stop to production in the factory till they get clearance certificates from a dozen departments including health, labour, sanitation and food safety.
One of the factory workers (who requested anonymity) has filed a case in the Sarjapur Police Station against the management of the factory that employees around 2,700 employees including tailors, checkers, helpers and supervisors. The police booked the case under section 337 of the Indian Penal Code, which is causing hurt by an act of endangering life or personal safety of others. She says in her complaint that 80-84 people from her company have fallen ill.
The women were treated in Town Hospital, Sarjapur, after they complained of stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. While 120 of them were treated as in patients, 150 of them were treated as outpatients. 39-year-old Pushpalatha is a decade-old worker of the factory who had severe stomach cramps on Friday night at around 8.30 pm.
“I couldn’t cook the night meal for my children. I was brought to the hospital directly. The factory has paid for the medicines and is providing us three square meals a day. This has brought bad name to the management but they are very good employers especially empathetic to women.”
The women stitch coats, pants and suits for both women and men at the factory.
Dr Mohammed Mustafa, one of the treating doctors, said, “We are a 50-bed hospital hence we have kept some women in the ICU but they are not critical. All are stable. We are awaiting results of culture tests of stool and urine. We will know what caused the infection then.”
Women who have been working for years in the factory that TNIE spoke to said the working conditions weren’t bad and that water contamination had happened for the first time. Health officials said that identification of the exact contaminant that caused their illness is still awaited. They will be serving a notice to the factory to separate the eating area from the rest of the factory, said Anekal District Health Officer Dr Gnanaprakasham A.
Omkar Murthy, health supervisor from the State Surveillance Unit, Department of Health and Family Welfare, said, “We inspected the factory on Tuesday. There are two borewells and an overhead tank. The management said that the Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant is routinely checked and they will furnish its fitness certificate to us. We have also asked for a sketch of the factory to check if pipelines carrying sewage and drinking water cross anywhere. They need to maintain a certain distance.”
“There is no barrier separating the eating area where the women bring home-cooked food and the room where cutting of garments happen. We don’t know if dust entered consumables from the cutting area. It doesn’t seem like rainwater seeped into the tank as it is covered. While our lab in Public Health Institute will take 48 hours to give the results, the factory has also sent it to a private lab,” Murthy added.
Women started falling ill one by one since Friday when finally on Monday afternoon the factory stopped all production.