Greed dominates as the sick retch

Gas leak


Garment workers being treated at St John’s Hospital after chlorine leaked from a cylinder at a factory in Bangalore on Monday. DH Photo

A chlorine gas leak in a garment manufacturing unit in Kodichikanahalli, Begur, in Madiwala here on Monday afternoon made at least 118 people fall sick after they inhaled the pungent odour. Several scores of people were rushed to St John’s, Prashanth and other nearby hospitals where they were treated as out-patients before being discharged within hours of admission.

Even as chaos and fear prevailed in the locality, there were an enterprising few who braved official vigilance to declare themselves sick, just so that they could claim compensation. But of course there was to be no monetary relief. The rumour mills, begun by some local miscreants, attracted the healthy and the able-bodied who lined up at the hospitals –– first to avail themselves of medical examinations and then to claim compensation.

Such was the rush for compensation that doctors attending to patients were at their wits end. But the situation was brought under control only when the police were called in. A number of such claimants were identified before being chased away.

The police said chaos broke out when people complained of sickness, including severe headache and breathlessness, after they inhaled chlorine gas that leaked from a rusted cylinder lying outside a waste cloth bleaching unit. Due to corrosion, there was a major leakage near the cylinder’s tap. It is said that the unit was shut down about 18 months ago due to technical reasons.

Geetha, who was among the scores who fell sick, told Deccan Herald: “My workplace is opposite the ill-fated unit and I usually sit next to the window. There was a light breeze and immediately many started coughing and complained of giddiness. Later, we were treated and sent home but a few were detained in the hospital”.

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