A Ammonia gas tragedy at the Cuncolim Industrial Estate had snuffed out the life of a young 22-year old worker from Uttar Pradesh and leaving four other workers injured.
The five workers were not working in the industrial unit affected by the leakage, but were sleeping in a temporary accommodation provided by the owner of the adjoining unit inside the factory boundary.
Apart from the safety of the industrial unit, the incident had brought to the fore the accommodation of workers and their families inside the industrial unit against the rules in force.
Sadly, two years down the line, lessons from the October 9, 2020 Ammonia gas leakage incident seems to have not been learnt by the authorities, including the Labour department, Industrial Development Corporation et al over the illegal stay of labourers inside the industrial unit.
An inspection of the Cuncolim industrial units by the authorities on July 14 from the point of view of curbing vector borne diseases has unearthed instances of workers having converted the units into makeshift accommodation.
In fact, makeshift accommodation, including kitchen, bedroom, besides bathing cubicles were spotted at a couple of units.
That the Balli Primary Health Officer Dr Mamata Kakodkar has dashed off a letter to the Field Manager of Cuncolim Industrial Estate gives a clear insight into the episode. For, in her letter, the Balli Primary Health Officer has drawn attention of the Field Manager that workers of the industries in the IDC, Cuncolim are staying inside the industrial unit, with a request to the Field Officer to do the needful regarding the issue.
GOACAN secretary Lorna Fernandes pointed out that workers were found staying in the industrial estate units during the inspection carried out by the authorities. While GOACAN had raised the issue of workers putting up at the industrial units since they may be contributing to the spread of vector borne diseases, what is worrying is that these workers and their families may turn out the first casualty in the case of an industrial accident a la the October 9, 2020 ammonia gas leakage incident.
Says Lorna: “The issue was raised by GOACAN at the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP) district level meeting chaired by the South Goa district Collector on June 24. A similar situation exists at the Margao industrial estate as well.”
When The Goan called up IDC Chairman Reginaldo Lourenco to draw his attention to the illegal accommodation of workers at the industrial units at Cuncolim and Nessai, he has cautioned the industry owners not to resort to any illegality, warning that he would crack a whip against the illegalities.
“Today, I had an inspection of the Sanguem Industrial Estate to have a first hand experience of the ground reality. Complaints have come to me about rampant encroachments of the IDC land. Similar visits will be conducted at all the industrial estates,” he said.
Reginaldo added: “Let me make it very clear, be it encroachment of IDC land or illegal accommodation of workers, the IDC will take steps and ensure that the IDC will rid of the illegalities.”