Skip to main content

Gujarat government report expresses concern over poor state preparedness in fighting chemical disasters

By Rajiv Shah
A recent Gujarat government report has identified Bharuch in Central Gujarat as the most hazard-prone district where what are called Major Accident Hazards (MAHs) can take place compared to the rest of Gujarat. The report, titled “Gujarat State Chemical Disaster Management Plan”, which has just been released, says that in Gujarat a total of 1,730 hazard-prone units have been identified, out of which 313 are in Bharuch, followed by Ahmedabad (287), Vadodara (261), Surat (165), and Valsad (137).Of the total number of industrial units with chemical hazard, Bharuch has the highest number of MAH units (75), followed by Vadodara (65), Kutch (35), Valsad (30), Ahmedabad (29), and Surat (26).

This makes two of Gujarat’s districts – Bharuch and Vadodara – to fall under the category of being “highly hazardous”, followed by six districts falling under the next “hazardous” category – Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Kutch, Rajkot, Surat and Rajkot, and Anand, Bhavnagar, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mehsana, Panchmahals and Porbandar falling under the “less hazardous” category.
The report says that if MAH units are highly concentrated in eight districts, the situation becomes dangerous for most of Gujarat because except for a handful – Banaskathna, Patan, Surendranagar, Tapi, Narmada, and Dangs – all other districts have MAH units in some numbers. While a moderate accident in these units could lead to up to 10 human fatalities and 100, immediate evacuation of up to 2,000 people, and a loss of property worth US dollars 100,000 to 1,000,000, a major accident can lead to up to 100 deaths and 300 injuries, requiring evacuation of up to 20,000 people, and an economic loss of US dollars 1,000,000 to 10,000,000.
In a worst case scenario, the report warns, these units could lead to “more than 100 potential human fatalities and 300 plus injuries”, requiring “protective actions for a significant population of more than 20,000”, widespread and/ or persistent contamination of one or more environmental media with long-term remediation or need for outside resources”, more than US dollars 10,000,000 in property or economic damages, and major impact on public confidence in government with widespread disruptions of social stability”.
The data further show that of the 1,730 “chemical hazardous” units spread all over Gujarat, all of them are vulnerable to fire, while 1,427 of these units are such which simultaneously face the danger of toxic gas leakage. It warns, the units which are characterized as MAH, there is absolutely no preparedness, saying, for any major catastrophe, “capacity is limited with serious deficiencies that can be addressed to majority extent through rigorous trainings and standardization” or is there is no preparedness, with massive “investments in equipments, manpower, training, standardization required.”
The average ranking of Gujarat on a scale of 10 for several major indicators -- such as environment and health, public health and safety, public outreach and education, emergency medical services, management of dead, mass care, planning, communication, situational awareness and response to disasters, security and protective actions – ranges anywhere between 5.8 (communications) and 4.4 (environmental health). Worse, the agency which is the watchdog of environment in the state, Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s ranking for planning is a pitiable 0.7, for communications 1.6, for response to safety and health 1.3, for security and protective actions 0.6, public outreach and education 2.0, and emergency public information 2.7. Its overall ranking is a mere 3.6.
The team of PRESTELS and IEM consultants, which prepared the report, say, the ranking is based on self-assessment by the officials which are supposed to handle different types of disasters, admitting, “Although we find few instances or high levels of self-ranking, the field visits clarified that such high ranking itself was based on improper understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and what international capability benchmark really meant. Majority of the respondents honestly self ranked their capability and we find that they fall short of the international benchmark.”
Giving the example of fire stations, the report states, “Currently, only 35% of the required number of fire stations is available in the state. In addition to lack of adequate number of fire stations, even the existing fire stations have limited manpower, equipment, vehicles and training. For example, currently Gujarat has manpower of 1447 people which is only 7.5% of the required strength of 19,222; the requirement will be higher if new fire stations are built. It will be important to build capacity of fire fighting and emergency service in Gujarat as a precursor to having chemical emergency response capability of international standard.”
Pointing towards utter shortage of fire stations in Gujarat, the report says, as against the requirement of 514, just about 183 exist. The situation is particularly back in major cities which face chemical disaster. Thus, in Ahmedabad, as against the requirement of 48 fire stations, 19 exist; in Bharuch, as against the requirement of 15 fire stations, just five exist; in Surat, as against the requirement of 40, only 15 exist; in Rajkot as against the requirement of 38, just 13 exist, and in Vadodara, as against the requirement of 25, just about 12 exist.

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen