March 24, 2013
Times of India
TUTICORIN: Tension prevailed in Tuticorin city and surrounding villages as an unspecified gas allegedly leaked from some factories here, causing mild suffocation, sore throat and irritation to several people on Saturday morning. Around 6 am, some gas started spreading and the air was heavy with it till 8 am. Residents in Shanmugapuram, Damodaran Nagar, P & T Colony, Teachers Colony, Doovi Nagar and KVK Nagar in the city and surrounding villages like Meelavittan, Korampallam, Madathur, Anthoniarpuram and Veerapandiapuram felt uncomfortable with something in the air and soon developed cough and suffocation.
As the news spread, panic-struck people covered their faces with hand kerchiefs. In areas like Shanmugapuram and Damodaran Nagar, it was alleged that the leaves of the plants and trees started withering away due to the leakage.
“I could feel that the air was somewhat acidic. I also felt irritation while breathing when I went for the walk and many of my friends also complained the same,” commented S Pechimuthu, a resident.
Upon hearing the news, district administration swung into action deploying medical teams in the affected areas. Teams led by RDO and DRO and the officials from the Pollution Control Board carried out inspection in the factories in Tuticorin. The team collected the environmental parameters at the units during the duration of the gas leak.
Initially, it was speculated that the gas leaked from Sterlite Copper and there were protests against the industry. However, the factory sources said that they had closed the plant for maintenance for the last two days and the production started only by 10 am on Saturday.
District administration sources stated that it was minor incident and the gas had not caused any major discomfort. It caused some itching and sore throat but no one has been hospitalised with serious ailments due to the leak. The medical teams inspected the affected areas, official sources said.
Addressing the media, district collector, Ashish Kumar confirmed that some gas leaked causing discomfort. “Officials are inspecting the source of the leak and the type of gas that escaped into atmosphere. Strict action will be taken against the parties involved once the inspection reports are in hand,” he said.