It’s been a week of no accountability by the police and the labour division over the ammonia gas leak incident that took place on the last Friday. A 22-year-old worker lost his life in the incident which took place in a fish processing unit, Quality Foods, at Cuncolim Industrial Estate.
After a week, now the police and the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers claim that the investigation is running its course. But neither agencies have managed to find out who is to be held accountable for the tragedy nor have they brought in the guilty party.
The Goan managed to find sources who have reported that the police have filed an FIR under section 304-A of the IPC for death under negligence. This, however, is the extent of the action taken so far and the police have now washed hands off the responsibility and passed it to the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers.
The police are now relying on the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to help them in the investigation. The police have sent a letter to the Inspectorate requesting aid as they are the experts in this case. Another similar letter has been sent to the IDC to find out whether the rooms constructed by the next unit to house its workers were in line with the regulations.
A contrary statement, however, was made by a senior police official who said that the Cuncolim police department is conducting its own independent investigation and are only seeking advisory help from the two agencies.
According to the reports from The Goan, the Inspectorate revealed that the incident happened due to a crack in the valve. The office of the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers will also be filing an official complaint to the Judicial Magistrate First Class after the police have done their investigation.
This, while progress, is not the answer to what justice will be delivered to the deceased worker. The investigation, so far, has only concerned itself with finding whether the guidelines are being followed. It does not say anything about the safety of the workers residing in the area.
The gravity of this ammonia leak incident is still not being taken seriously by the authorities. It has been amply evident in the extent to which the concerned authorities went to hide the facts of the incident, not only from the media but the district authorities as well.
Cuncolim MLA Clafacio Dias, Cuncolim Municipal Council Chairperson Succorina Coutinho, and councillors have consolidated with the citizens of Cuncolim in insisting inter-departmental cooperation and taking actions to ensure the safety of the workers employed and residing in and around the area.