Visakhapatnam, May 8 (IANS) Experts were still trying on Friday to neutralise styrene gas at LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd here, a day after the gas leaked from the plant and left 12 people dead and scores of others ill, officials said.
Chief Secretary Neelam Sawhney, who is camping in the coastal city to monitor the operation, exuded confidence that the operation to neutralize the remaining gas at the plant will be completed in 48 hours
The top bureaucrat, who held a review meeting at the office of the District Collector, was told that the temperature in the storage tank is very high at present.
The spraying of water on the tank was continuing while experts from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other agencies were trying to neutralize the gas using PTBC, the antidote chemical specially brought from Gujarat by a cargo flight.
The Chief Secretary said the gas leak resulted in 12 deaths, while 454 others had to be admitted to various hospitals.
She said 10,000 people from five villages were evacuated. She urged them to remain in relief camps till further advisory.
The official said there was gas leak late Thursday night but the rescue workers acted swiftly to bring the situation under control.
The officials were monitoring the level of styrene in the air around the factory. She, however, said there would be no long-term impact of the gas on the environment.
Earlier, Minister for Industries M Goutam Reddy visited the plant and said there was no need to panic as experts were doing their best to neutralise the gas in the tank.
He said stern action would be taken against those found guilty for the accident after submission of an inquiry report.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday released Rs 30 crore towards extending financial assistance to the bereaved families and those taken ill.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his visit to Visakhapatnam on Thursday, had announced Rs 1 crore each to the families of the deceased.
As per the government Order, people who got primary medical aid will be paid Rs 25,000 each, Rs 1 lakh each to those hospitalised for 2 or 3 days, Rs 10 lakh each to those on ventilator support and Rs 10,000 each to all in the affected villages.
In the meantime, the Chief Minister on Friday said that the Pollution Control Board (PCB) should be strengthened and directed the officials to identify hazardous factories in densely populated areas in and around Visakhapatnam.
During a review meeting held through videoconference, he asked the officials to prepare a comprehensive road map to ensure a safe city free of hazardous industries which should be located away from habitations.
The chief minister instructed the PCB officials to play a proactive role in preventing industrial accidents. He directed for a fair and transparent investigation into the gas leak incident and a comprehensive report on the same.
In a related development, Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded immediate closure of LG Polymers India. He said if necessary, the plant should be shifted to another location.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President found fault with the state government for registering a case against the company under what was termed as “less stringent provisions of law”.
He urged the government to ensure sincere investigations by the experts. He noted that the High Court, National Human Rights Commission, and the National Green Tribunal have taken suo motu cognizance of the incident.