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Ragpicker loses limb in chemical blast at Adugodi

Last Updated : 08 March 2020, 20:09 IST

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Bomb and forensic experts scour the blast site near Dairy Circle on Sunday. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V
Bomb and forensic experts scour the blast site near Dairy Circle on Sunday. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V
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Bomb and forensic experts inspect the blast site in Adugodi on Sunday. DH PhotoS/ Pushkar V
Bomb and forensic experts inspect the blast site in Adugodi on Sunday. DH PhotoS/ Pushkar V
Bomb and forensic experts scour the blast site near Dairy Circle on Sunday. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V
Bomb and forensic experts scour the blast site near Dairy Circle on Sunday. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V

An elderly ragpicker lost his leg after a steel box filled with an unknown chemical exploded in southern Bengaluru on Sunday, police said. This is the third casualty of the careless disposal of hazardous materials in the city in less than a year.

Narasimhappa, 50, was rummaging through waste materials when he inadvertently stepped on the box in Rangadasappa Layout, Adugodi, around 4 pm. His left leg was ripped to pieces, and passersby had to rush him to a hospital in an auto-rickshaw.

Krishna, an eyewitness who lives nearby, said he heard a big sound and came out running. He said he saw a yellow cement sack in tatters and an elderly man bleeding, referring to Narasimhappa. Krishna and other passersby then called the police and took Narasimhappa to a hospital in an auto.

Krishna suspected the chemical was thrown by local granite factories. "Maybe, some chemical was just thrown into the garbage pile, and it exploded," he surmised.

Another eyewitness, Shivakumar, said a bag and a box flew in the air and that there was a big sound but hardly any smoke. He said a tragedy was averted as Narasimhappa was alone there.

Police suspect the chemical was used in granite cutting and was carelessly dumped but ruled out any foul play. There was no damage to any other living being. The box was one of the many things stuffed in a bag and dumped on a garbage blackspot, an officer said. "It does not appear to be a deliberate act," Srinath Joshi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast), said and added that forensic experts had scoured the place for clues about the chemical.

Construction debris has been strewn all around Rangadasappa Layout after several buildings were demolished to make way for a metro line. "People also threw garbage there. When Narasimahappa went to pick garbage, he stepped on the box that had been exposed to sunlight. It got compressed and exploded," Joshi said. "We are trying to trace the granite company that threw the chemical."

Adugodi police have registered an FIR against unknown people for causing grievous injuries, negligence and not disposing of the chemical in a scientific manner.

On November 29, 2019, a powerful blast at the Forensic Science Laboratory, Madiwala, had wounded seven people. Highly flammable chemicals used in plastic decoration items had burst into flames. The chemicals were brought from Raichur where they had exploded in a garbage mound on October 15, 2018, leaving a female ragpicker dead and her husband and son wounded.

On May 20, 2019, a male servant at the Vyalikaval home of MLA Munirathna died after a can containing Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide exploded.

The latest incident has brought into sharp focus the reckless disposal of chemical waste. Nalini Shekar, who co-founded environmental NGO Hasiru Dala, said industrial waste must not be mixed with municipal waste. "It should be disposed of separately, even if that's expensive. There is a dedicated facility in Dobbspet that manages industrial waste," she added.

D Randeep, the BBMP's special commissioner for solid waste management, said the civic body had zero tolerance for people dumping hazardous materials. "We have penalised some hospitals dumping medical waste but rarely do we see industrial waste being thrown on the roadside. Most of it is liquid and discharged into stormwater drains," he said.

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Published 08 March 2020, 19:33 IST

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