KOLLAM: A panel headed by the District Collector has been set-up to inquire into the alleged gas leak from the state-run Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML), which led to the hospitalisation of over 70 children from around Chavara here.
The probe led by Collector would be in addition to the experts' inquiry ordered by the state Government yesterday, KMML's Managing Director Michael Vetha Siramani said. The company, which mainly produces rutile grade titanum oxide using rare metals and minerals available in the area, had denied there was any leak of gas, but admitted later that there was a "minor leak of burning gas which was immediately sealed."
But the incident sparked public outcry in the area and the plant has been indefinitely shut down on orders from Factories and Boilers Department.
Over 70 children were yesterday hospitalised as they took ill after allegedly inhaling gas-leak from the plant. About 25 children had sought medical aid the previous day following gas leak.
The children were rushed to nearby hospitals after they developed symptoms of uneasiness. However, many of the children, students of three nearby schools, have been discharged and the condition of others are said to be normal.
The panel headed by the Collector would comprise experts from state Pollution Control Board (PCB) and medical members.
The Government had last evening ordered an inquiry into the incident by an experts' team from Cochin Refinery Limited, which would look into the safety mechanism at the plant and suggest measures to improve them.
Also, an investigation by Additional Director General of Police A Hemachandran has been announced to ascertain whether there had been any "sabotage" involved in recurrence of gas leak from the plant.
Blood samples of affected children would be sent to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram for analysis to ascertain whether the smoke contained obnoxious chemical elements.
Meanwhile, Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty has called a meeting of the board of directors of the company next week to discuss the issues concerning the company.