KOLKATA: Six people were suffocated to death inside a well at a paper mill in Hazinagar in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Friday.
Preliminary investigation has found that two persons had entered the well -- in which paper waste was treated with chemicals -- to repair a malfunctioning valve but felt dizzy due to methane gas.
When they called for help, four more persons went inside the well. However, when they too did not come out after one hour, fire brigade was summoned. All the six labourers were declared dead when taken to a hospital.
The victims were identified as Mohammad Nazim, Mithun and Uday Raj, who are residents of Uttar Pradesh, and local residents Ashok Boral, Vijay Verma and Amit Yadav. All the victims were contractual workers at Indian Paper Mill and were paid a daily wage of Rs 180. None of them had protective gear either gas masks or oxygen cylinders while descending into the well.
Naihati police have filed a suo motu case against owners Rajiv and Sanjay Agarwal who are absconding since the incident. Local workers protested at the mill over the incident and alleged that the owners disregarded safety norms and demands for an increase of wage and fired protesters from work without any notice. Before being privatised in 2006, the paper mill was a state government undertaking.