The visuals of a mother struggling with a line of cops and jumping over a gate and then breaking down are heart-wrenching. Lakshmi is then heard screaming how she knew about the death of her nine-year-old Grishma only a day after the incident. The child was one of the 11 victims who died due to the gas leak at LG Polymers company in Visakhapatnam.
Minutes after the gas leak happened at 3.30am on 7 May, Thursday, in RR Venkatpuram village, several people fell unconscious on the roads. The IV-grader and her 11-year-old brother N Pardha had inhaled large quantities of the gas and so fell unconscious while walking with their parents. They were initially admitted to Pendurthi Government Hospital and later shifted to King George Hospital, where Grishma was declared brought dead, said a resident.
It was only on Friday that she was told that her child had passed away. On Saturday when Lakshmi, along with two other families were handed over the corpses, they marched to the factory to demand justice. There were at least 300 angry locals from the villages surrounding the plant who joined in the protest.
‘No Arrests Made So Far’
Residents demanded that the factory be shut down immediately.
Weeping, Grishma’s mother is heard telling in the video that her daughter was turning 10 on 3 June and how excited she was about her birthday. “Do you know how beautiful she is? I can’t still believe she is no more,” she said.
She folded her hands begging the police to hear their cries. She also expressed shock at how there have been no arrests made so far. A resident present at the protest told that a police official tried to explain to the residents gathered saying they would be given a compensation of a huge amount to which the protesters said ‘they don’t want a single penny but want to see the factory gates sealed.’
Lakshmi even fell at the feet of a senior police officer, said a resident, who then pacified her. The police officials suggested that the residents file a formal complaint and write a letter to the state government.
“We saw people dropping dead in front of our eyes. We saw our kids just faint and not wake up ever again. How can we allow this?,” a resident told.
The residents had also tried to block the state Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang from leaving the company's premises. Tourism Minister and MLA of Bheemili, Muttamsetti (Avanti) Srinivas had stepped in to pacify the crowds.
LG Polymers Constitutes Task Force
The company issued a statement on Saturday stating that it would ‘investigate the cause of this incident, prevent recurrence in the future, and secure the foundation for care and treatment.’
A special task force has also been set up to help victims and families resolve any issues and provide assistance to the bereaved families, the company said.
They assured that their teams are working day and night to stabilise the plant, to assess the impact of the damage caused and ‘create concrete measures to deliver an effective care package that can be implemented immediately,’ the statement read.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced Rs 1 crore each as compensation to the kin of those who have been killed in the tragedy. Those victims who are undergoing treatment on ventilator would get Rs 10 lakh each. Others, who are hospitalised but not on ventilator, would received Rs 1 lakh each as compensation.
The National Green Tribunal had ordered LG Polymers India to pay interim damages of Rs 50 crore and issued notices to the company, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state and centre.
The police have registered a case of culpable homicide and causing grievous hurt against the company management.