Back in action

Published: Tuesday 15 June 1993

-- Though a deadly gas leak two months ago caused nine deaths, Century Rayon is back in full production despite orders from the Maharashtra environment ministry and the state pollution control board (MPCB) to keep the mill closed until all MPCB directives had been implemented. Factory authorities had pleaded then that this would take months and added, however, "We shall endeavour to prevail upon the government to allow operations to commence soon." Smug company officials assert all MPCB conditions have been met, leading to clearance from the state government.

As directed by MPCB, a 450 cum (cubic metres) storage tank has been provided for the mill's spin bath unit, whose malfunctioning is held responsible for the leak. Now, the state environment ministry asserts, "After examining the pros and cons of the actions taken by the company so far, we have no objection to restarting the spin bath section."

Other MPCB conditions included creation of a "panic pond" connected to the effluent treatment pond, compliance with prescribed standards for discharge of effluents and proof of intent about laying down a closed conduit pipeline.

In a dissenting note, chest specialist S R Kamat says he is not satisfied with the mill's precautionary steps and his request to MPCB to allow him to conduct a study to determine the actual cause of the accident was turned down. "As this study was not conducted," says Kamat, "we do not know for sure what exactly occurred and, therefore, we are not in a position to say whether the measures taken by Century Rayon will be adequate to prevent its recurrence."

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