VISAKHAPATNAM: A total of 12 people, including a minor, were killed when styrene vapours leaked from the LG Polymers plant on May 7, 2020, while several hundreds fell ill after inhaling the poisonous chemical at R Venkatapuram near Visakhapatnam.
The grim scenes in the wee hours of the LG Polymers gas leak still haunt the residents of Venkatapuram village, located in Pendurthi mandal in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
Sai, one of the residents, says that he has dreamt of the traumatic incident many times in the last one year. Sai wakes up from his nightmares in the middle of the night and finds himself covered in sweat, gasping for air, and confused, just like that night.
None of Sai's family succumbed to the spread of the poisonous styrene gas, but they say they are suffering from digestion issues. "For instance, I feel a severe stomach ache if I eat meat," Sai explained.
But what bothers him the most are his dreams. He wishes they will end soon. While LG Polymers has shut down, the residents of the village say that they still suffer from minor issues such as breathing problems, asthma, digestive issues, and more.
With the closure of the plastic manufacturing plant, several people lost their job. While many people still face difficulty in acquiring a stable job, some work as security guards, salesmen, and the like.
43-year-old P Venkataramana, who was working at the plant, now stays away from his family and works as a salesman in a shop. He comes home on weekends. "We are planning to move from this village. Though it is our home, it has given us nothing but sadness," his wife, Sudha says.
Venkataramana and his family lost one of their family members due to the styrene gas leak. Several others in Venkatapuram village have left jobless after the closure of the company. "The government said it would set up a hospital here. Where is it?," Sudhakar, one of the residents of the village, asked angrily.
He said a PHC was set up in the Government Primary School nearby. "But the primary health centre has no proper facilities," Sudhakar rued. While no COVID-19 cases have been reported in the area, the villagers live in constant fear of contracting the virus, more so due to their breathing issues.
"Nobody cares about the survivors anymore. We are barely living," he lamented. Ramana Devi recalls sleeping on the pavement and running for her breath with her children on the horror night on May 7 last year.
"I am happy that we are all safe. But the incident has left a huge black mark on everyone in the village. We have had some health issues or the other since then, even though they are minor," she said.
After a year of the LG Polymers Gas Leak incident, the residents are carrying a huge mental burden. Many are traumatised by the accident. Carrying the misery and trauma, they live on in Venkatapuram village, surviving on their meagre earnings.