Ludhiana gas tragedy: 11 dead but magisterial probe finds ‘no one responsible’ - Hindustan Times
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Ludhiana gas tragedy: 11 dead but magisterial probe finds ‘no one responsible’

ByTarsem Singh Deogan andSukhpreet Singh, Ludhiana
Jul 04, 2023 12:54 AM IST

This has come to light in the report submitted by sub-divisional magistrate (SDM, West) Harjinder Singh to the fact-finding committee. In the report, no one has been directly blamed for the incident

No one was responsible for the Ludhiana gas tragedy that claimed 11 lives– including women and children – according to the magisterial probe.

NDRF teams starting rescue operation after gas leak incident at Sua road in Giaspura area of Ludhiana. (Gurpreet Singh/HT File)
NDRF teams starting rescue operation after gas leak incident at Sua road in Giaspura area of Ludhiana. (Gurpreet Singh/HT File)

This has come to light in the report submitted by sub-divisional magistrate (SDM, West) Harjinder Singh to the fact-finding committee. In the report, no one has been directly blamed for the incident.

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On April 30 this year 11 people, including three children, died after a gas leak in a thickly populated area in Ludhiana. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, which was rushed soon after the incident, detected high levels of hydrogen sulphide in the area.

In conclusion, the report said there is no reliable proof to determine whether this was on account of structural incongruences of sewer lines at those locations or on account of a sudden unnatural industrial discharge.

“It is understood that all of the chemical reactions are plausible, even simultaneously with the right ambient conditions. Determining which of these effects would have dominated at the point would be largely speculative and probable in nature,” the report said.

The report mentions the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), in its second interim report, has listed a set of water-polluting industries beyond 100m of the site which have engaged in some violations in the past. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report and Municipal Corporation report also mention the strong possibility of acidic effluents possibly leading to the generation of hydrogen sulphide gas.

However, the report said, “Such plausible sporadic discharge, leading to building up over time, combined with the peculiar sewer conditions, lack of sewer vents and past rainfall vents could have jointly led to the creation of a set of conditions that facilitated a deadly chemical reaction that precipitated in the sudden release of gas.”

The report also mentioned that the sewer connection made by Goyal Karyana Store was unscientific which led to reverse ventilation of hydrogen sulphide gas in their residence. Sourav Goyal (35), who owned the store, died along with his wife Preety (31) and mother Kamlesh Goyal (60) in the aftermath of the gas leak.

“The sewer opening was basin drain may have acted as a reverse ventilation pipeline dissipation of the gas in the affected premises. Poor ventilation systems, particularly in the affected houses, might have affected the dissipation of gas and have aggravated the situation. No fatality was observed due to any dissipation of the gas in the main sewer line which was near the other end of the road,” the report points out.

The report also said that the incident occurred in a very small stretch at the opposite end of the main sewer line. “As the sewer lines of the all three affected houses are interconnected, the possibility of hitting the inspection chamber by someone with some stick/chemical thereby disturbance of the traps and leading to sudden dissipation of gas cannot be ruled out,” the report added.

The report included three interim reports submitted by PPCB which suggested that out of total 113 industries, 17 were found polluting water by the joint team. Out of these 17 industries, four industries were downstream of the incident. Three out of these four industries were using acid, while 13 water-polluting industries were found upstream out of which 11 were using acid.

“None of the 13 industries was observed to be discharging any acidic effluent into the sewer line by the joint team of PPCM/MCL at the time of the visit. No acid-consuming industry was found within 100 meters distance from the place of incident,” the report said.

SDM Harjinder Singh confirmed said that he has submitted the report to the fact-finding committee. Deputy commissioner Surabhi Malik said that the fact-finding committee is yet to send the final version of the report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

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