Repeated gas leaks and industry-related mishaps over the past few months have raised concerns among the citizens in Andhra Pradesh. Starting with the Styrene Gas Leak in Visakhapatnam, to the latest crane accident in HSL premises, Andhra Pradesh has witnessed some untoward incidents that claimed several innocent lives in industrial areas. To prevent further accidents and to ensure the safety of the activities in industries, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday ordered a special drive for full-scale inspection of all industrial units in the state to ensure compliance of safety protocols, in the backdrop of a spate of accidents that claimed tens of lives in recent days, particularly in the port city of Visakhapatnam.
A decision to this effect was taken at a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy at his Camp Office here on Tuesday. A seven-member committee headed by Joint Collector (Welfare) has been constituted in each district to carry out the special drive within 90 days, a senior official said. The panel would take up the work with the involvement of officials from Factories Department, AP Pollution Control Board, Boilers Department, State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department and Director of Electrical Safety and Chief Electrical Inspector (Energy Department).
“In foreign countries, there will be a penalty if the Compliance Report is not submitted but we do not have that system. We should adopt such policies and those responsible for industrial mishaps should be sternly dealt with. Any death in the industrial sector should be compensated with ex gratia of Rs 50,00,000. The Industrial Safety Policy should include such specifications,” the Chief Minister suggested. It was also decided to bring out an Industrial Atlas showing the location of industries and industrial parks in the State along with their categorization.
The Atlas should be like a guide and reckoner for those who want to start an industry in the State. In the first phase, all hazardous chemical industries, covered under the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, will be covered under the special drive, according to Special Chief Secretary (Industries and Infrastructure) R Karikal Valaven. Industries that store, manufacture or handle explosive substances as defined under the Explosives Act and the Petroleum Act and all red category industrial units would also be covered in the first phase, he said.
In June, the Central Pollution Control Board directed all the state PCBs to ensure that risk studies were duly undertaken by all industries dealing with hazardous chemicals and that their onsite and offsite plans are operational. Mock drills are also required to be carried out for testing the plans, in accordance with the National Green Tribunal order. After the styrene vapor leak, the High-Power Committee headed by Special Chief Secretary (Environment) Neerabh Kumar Prasad had recommended a series of steps to be taken by various departments for preventing such mishaps in the future.
“Based on these recommendations, we decided there is an immediate need to organize a special drive of inspections for ensuring compliance of all safety protocols and environment norms by all industrial units,” the Special Chief Secretary (Industries) said. Prior to the inspections, managements of the industrial units are required to prepare a report on safety protocols and environmental norms being followed as per the relevant Acts, rules, and regulations. Valaven directed the head of departments to ensure that the inspections begin immediately and the industrial units in high priority, based on safety risk assessment and pollution load, be asked to prepare the reports maximum within a fortnight
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