Waking to the chemical spill in Delhi

Lives of about 500 schoolkids were put at stake when a toxic chemical leaked in a busy slum area in south Delhi on May 6. Down To Earth finds out the lapses and highlights the pressing concerns

By Jitendra
Last Updated: Monday 08 May 2017

The workers at Inland Container Depot (ICD), school teachers and surrounding slum dwellers and garbage collectors are still in panic, a day after an early morning leakage of chemical causing illness to 475 students, mostly girls.

The affected population not just includes students and teachers but also the workers and residents of VP Singh slum, which has a population of more than 7000. The popualtion of the ICD workers is another 2000. 

Plight of the locals

It was around 3 am on Saturday (May 6) morning when Babloo Rajak, a container driver reached the Container Corporation of India (CCI) with his empty container truck.

“After parking, I was moving towards a tea shop nearby while I felt tears rolling over cheeks, irritation in the eyes and feeling of dizziness,” says Babloo who has been working in this place for the last 17 years.

“I saw garbage collectors who were already in tears. They said it looks like someone has cut a truck of onions,” says Babloo. After that, he went to the nearby slum to take rest in his room. He washed his face and eyes, took bath and slept in a closet.

Sonu singh, a supervisor of the parking area, said that the place turned so suffocating that he went away to a distant place at about 4 am and washed his face to get relief.

“At that time no one knew what was going on. There was chaos as everyone was running away. The place looked deserted. There were containers without human being,” says Sonu.

A 14-year old girl from the slum, Nandini, who fell unconscious at around 6 am, was taken to a hospital by her uncle.

“In the morning, we all started feeling suffocated and our eyes were burning. Initially, we thought it was due to pollution” says Rani, mother of girl.

According to the residents of the slum, no one paid attention to their sufferings.

Two girls, Khushi Rawat and Vishakha, were re-admitted to Batra Hospital once they were discharged at 5 pm. Rest of the 63 students and teachers were discharged from Batra Hospital. According to Pul Prahladpur Police Station Inspector, Ashok Kumar, 293 girls were discharged till 7 pm.

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