Locals turn heat on ice unit after ammonia leakage

Tension mounted after a few residents had to be rushed to hospital following a gas leakage in an ice factory in Salatwada area of the city, with enraged residents gheraoeing the factory staff and owners before the police arrived and dispersed the mob.

Around 3 pm on Tuesday, ammonia gas began oozing out from one of the 12 valves located on the terrace of Shree Gayatri Ice Factory, which is surrounded by thickly populated residential societies and chawls. People smelt something was amiss and called the fire brigade, which plugged the leakage.

Chief Fire Officer H J Taparia said, "There were 12 valves to control the ammonia gas and one of them was leaking. The gas was oozing out with high intensity. With the help of our latest equipment, we controlled the situation. We realised there was no system in place to handle any accidental leakage of this lethal gas. Fortunately, no one was seriously affected. A few persons were shifted to SSG."

Locals alleged a similar leakage had taken place in 2006 and said the factory is functioning without proper permission. "The owners already have an ice factory in Makarpura GIDC and we have been requesting them to shift this one to the same place. They recently spent a lot on the renovation of the factory but they have not spent a single rupee on fire safety," said a resident.

Some children from nearby residential buildings were reportedly affected due to the leakage. One Hanif Sheikh (22) was rushed to SSG Hospital. "While most of the residents had vacated the buildings around, Sheikh could not move as he had a fractured leg and had lost consciousness. But he is said to have gained consciousness," said Taparia.

A few children between the age group of 7-16 and three workers of the ice factory were also reportedly affected and were taken to a nearby private hospital. None of them is in serious condition.

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