Mysuru fire a mystery, but suspicion on graphite, lead

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has formed a special committee to examine the fire in a farmland near Mysuru on April 14, which led to the death of a 14-year-old boy on Sunday.

“We want to examine the issue and bring the culprits to book even if they are lethargic government officials,” KSPCB Chairman Lakshman told DH. A committee of chemical and mineral experts, KSPCB officials and IISc researchers has been formed to look into the issue.

A three-member KSPCB team, led by Jayaprakash of the Technical Evaluation Committee, visited the spot on Monday and collected five soil samples comprising mud and ash (gray and white).

Forensic experts and officials of the Department of Mines and Geology collected soil, waste and air samples. Experts suspect the fire was caused by graphite and lead.

Lakshman said both the KSPCB and the Central Pollution Control Board were checking the samples. “It will take 10-15 days to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. Various parameters will be checked, including harmful chemicals like aluminium, sodium, lithium, phosphate and potassium. This is the first of a kind incident,” he added. K M Lingaraju, senior environmental officer, KSPCB, Mysuru, said it was shocking as to what caused the fire in the open field as no garbage or chemical was found thrown around.

According to the official, there is a huge natural pit in the middle of the farmland. The pH level of the sample was found to be 7 and the soil temperature was 110 degrees Celsius. Plants and grass also caught fire because of the high temperature. The texture of the soil was sand-like and its colour resembled ash. No foul smell emanated from the site. “The place is far from the tarred roads and there is no proper approach road. No tyre marks were found around it,” he added.

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