Hours after the tragedy involving the death of six workers of a quarry in Chikkaballapur near Bengaluru unfolded, it has emerged that District Superintendent of Police Mithun had inspected the site more than once in the last month.
Speaking to TNM, Deputy Commissioner of Chikkaballapur, R Latha said that the SP himself had started a probe against the facility and had inspected it, even within the last two weeks. “The explosion is likely to have occurred as they were hurriedly trying to hide or dispose the explosives as they were scared of the police. Even yesterday, the local police had seized a compressor vehicle from the site. But the police could not spot the explosives in the site,” Latha told TNM.
It may be recalled that all district administrations were ordered to reign in illegal operations of quarry and mining sites and explosive usages by the Chief Minister following a similar mishap in Shivamogga.
“This particular site is regulated. But the blast had occurred a km away from the quarrying site. The SP had personally visited the site first on 7 February and booked a case for irregularities regarding usage of explosives. That time, some explosives were seized too. It was found that they are supposed to put the gelatin at a depth of 7 feet, but they were doing it at a much further depth. According to rules, there are specialised personnel who should be handling the explosives, but the quarry operators were doing it themselves without any expert guidance. So an FIR was registered and one person was arrested too,” Latha elaborated.
She added, “The FIR had also named the owners of the quarry as the accused. Four times, the police had inspected the place since then.”
As reported earlier, six persons died in an accidental explosion of gelatin sticks at around 12.15 am on Tuesday near the stone quarry unit situated in Hirenagavalli village of the district bordering Bengaluru. Among the deceased were one quarry engineer Ramu, one computer operator Abhi, one manager Umakanth and three labourers —- Abhilash, Muralikrishna and Gangadhar. The only survivor of the accident, Ansari, a driver of a minivan is recovering at the district hospital and is out of danger, officials confirmed. He has suffered serious injuries on his legs.
The incident triggered Health and District-in-charge Minister Dr K Sudhakar to visit the site, which was followed by a visit by Home Minister Basavraj Bommai, who ordered a CID probe and assured strict punishment for all those responsible for this tragedy.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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