LG Polymers gas leak: Panic subsides after the nightmare on Visakhapatnam streets

Surprised many, residents left their homes without any destination to go to, only to keep themselves safe and away from possible leakage.
People who moved out of their homes in Gopalapatnam, Madhavadhara and Kancharapalem areas sleeping on beach road in Visakhapatnam. (Photo | EPS)
People who moved out of their homes in Gopalapatnam, Madhavadhara and Kancharapalem areas sleeping on beach road in Visakhapatnam. (Photo | EPS)

VISAKHAPATNAM: An eerie silence pervaded RR Venkatapuram on Friday, which bore the brunt of styrene gas leak from LG Polymers plant. Barring occasional movement of police vans and NDRF teams, normal life came to a grinding halt in Venkatapuram and four other villages.

Venkatapuram looks like a ghost village the day after ‘Black Thursday’. SDRF personnel and patrol vehicles were seen doing rounds in villages to check for any intruders as almost all houses were locked. The SDRF personnel said they were going round the villages to keep a vigil and also trace if anyone was left behind in the locked houses.

The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) deployed JCBs and trucks to remove carcasses of animals, which fell prey to styrene gas leak. The GVMC also undertook an intensive sanitisation of the area and deployed mobile sprayers to spray sodium hypochlorite solution in all the villages. An official said the villagers were evacuated after the gas leak and they were shifted to 17 shelters run by the GVMC.

The five villages have 3,080 houses with a population of around 14,000, including 1,250 houses in Venkatapuram, 600 in Nandamuri Nagar, 250 in Kamparapalem, 500 in Padmanabha Nagar and 480 in SC and BC Colony.

Meanwhile, hundreds of panic-stricken people who left their homes on Thursday night fearing for their safety, started returning to their villages as fear among them subsided following the announcement by City Police Commissioner RK Meena that all the areas outside 2 km radius of the epicentre were safe and appealed to people to return to their homes. 

Movement of people which started as a trickle on Thursday evening, turned out to be an exodus with many heading towards areas they felt safe. Utter chaos prevailed in most parts of the city, particularly in the area from Pendurthy to Kancharapalem as hundreds of families came out of their houses and headed towards the Beach Road, which they thought was relatively safe.

An advisory issued by the officials asking people to vacate houses within the 1 km radius of Venkatapuram triggered the exodus. The police swung into action and made attempts to allay fears of the people, who were by then worried over the safety of styrene tank, did not pay heed to their appeals.

Many left their homes to keep themselves safe and away from possible gas leak. When asked why they were leaving their homes, Reddy and his wife Gayatri said though they were not feeling any discomfort they decided to leave as they do not want to be caught if there is any adverse situation. Reddy said that like them many families had already gone to the houses of their friends and relatives in other parts of Vizag.

Simmanna (75) and his wife Appala Narasamma said they do not know anything but they said they were told by their children to come to their house in Lawsons Bay Colony. This was the mood of all people who cameout of their homes. Some spent their night on the Beach Road and under the shade of trees in Goshala and other parks at Simhachalam.

Srinivas, a resident of Simhachalam, said though there are shelters run by Simhachalam Devasthanam, most of them preferred to stay in open areas and under trees for clean air. As most of the people stayed in open areas on their own there were no complaints from them.

After the situation improved, majority of people returned to their homes. GVMC chief G Srijana inspected the shelter homes set up for LG Polymers gas leak victims at Goshala Junction and Naidu Thota. She enquired about the facilities being provided to the evacuees at the shelters.

She said in view of coronavirus threat theay should maintain social distancing and asked officials to give them masks and gloves. Protected drinking water and hygienic food should be provided to them, she said. Additional Commissioner V Sanyasi Rao, Chief Medical Officer of Health KSLG Sastry and other officials accompanied her during the visit.

The affected lot 

Total population: 14,000

  • 3,080-Total number of houses

  • 1,250-Houses in Venkatapuram 

  • 600-Houses in Nandamuri Nagar 

  • 250-Houses in Kamparapalem 

  • 500-Houses in Padmanabha Nagar 

  • 480-Houses in SC and BC Colony

  • 17-No. of shelters set up by GVMC

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The New Indian Express