78 hazardous factories identified for disaster management

While observing the bitter memory of Bhopal gas tragedy that left at least 20,000 people dead and five lakh injured on the chemical disaster prevention day-2009 on Friday, top ranking officials of various government departments emphasised the need to take measures to avoid such tragedies.

Labour department secretary Ramesh B Zalaki said preventing and managing disasters are important aspects of the disaster management but tragically all these are on paper because these measures are to be taken at micro-level.

He said people, right from a peon to the telephone operator and watchman have to be informed about the tragedies. He said there are around 78 factories in Karnataka which are rated as hazardous factories and the department is focusing on sensitising all the employees there.

In factories, safety comes at the end after production, processing, sale, purchase and accounts. The safety aspect has to go to the top. There is need to sensitise lower rank employees, who too can handle disaster well in time. Our whole exercise should be to emphasise on reducing the response time as much as possible,” said Zalaki.

Speaking on the occasion, the chairperson of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board A S Sadashivaiah said people have to switch over to the right equipment and eco-friendly materials to avoid industrial disasters like the one at Bhopal.

He also stressed on the need to train employees about handing hazardous chemicals and a coordinated effort to avoid tragedies. Sadashivaiah said the State government has taken measures to check pollution by recommending the buses to be run on compressed natural gas and switching over auto-rickshaws from two-stroke engine to four-stroke engine.

On the occasion, the secretary in revenue department (disaster management) Dr H V Parshvanath said in 2005 National Disaster Act was framed and accordingly a rule was framed. Following this, the State government identified 32 types of disasters that may hit the state including drought, flood, tsunami and earthquake.

Talking about the recent flood that affected at least three crore people of the state and killed 229 people and around 2,000 cattle, Dr Parshavanath blamed the absence of accurate weather forecast system.

“We were told that there will be heavy rainfall but as per the definition, heavy rainfall means more than 60 mm rainfall whereas the rains occurred for a week amounted to around 400 mm. It also means that 70 per cent of the annual rainfall occurred in just one week, which led to massive flooding,” said Dr Parshavanath. He said the state is eligible for Rs 7040 crores worth flood relief fund from centre of which Rs 500 crore has been given to the state.

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