Even as one of the country’s biggest ever international Fire safety conferences viz. Fire Combat 360,
kicked off on the evening of the 8th of March to a rousing response from an appreciative and alert
audience in the city of Mumbai, tragedy was around the corner. That very night saw a devastating fire
tragedy in nearby Palghar when a boiler blast in a factory barely 20 odd kilometers from one of the
country’s major nuclear facilities located in Tarapur, could be heard as far as 10 to 15 kilometres away.
At that time, one watchman had already died and some 13 to 14 injured were reported.
“The Boisar chemical reactor blasted at around 11 pm on Thursday night and spread like a wildfire to the
other industrial units of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation in Palghar, killing at least
3 and injuring 20 others,” was the headline that greeted Mumbai on the morning of the 10 th of March.
The Boisar police have registered a case of accidental death after three charred bodies were recovered
from the industrial unit at the E-plot of Boisar MIDC. According to the police, the three dead were
identified as Pintu Kumar Gautam, Janu Adaria and Alok Kumar. All three of them were workers.
MACABRE HILARITY IN ‘SAFETY ADVICE’ WHICH ACTUALLY WORKED
It is difficult, indeed insensitive to seek humor in a tragedy like this one. And yet the sheer extent of
callousness and ignorance on the part of people, sometimes holding responsible positions, evoked some
black humor in this case. As per the report of ‘Times of India’ , 10 th March: When an explosion took place
at Novaphene Specialities Pvt Ltd on Thursday night, over a dozen daily-wage labourers were working in
the chemical unit without any safety gear. The death toll in the fire could have been higher if not for a
rudimentary instruction the young labourers had got from the experienced ones: “Run for life if you
hear an explosion or see a flame.”
And that’s exactly what Dinesh Kumar (25), who was working at Novaphene for the past six months, and
others did. Kumar, who sustained head injuries caused by splinters, said he had no idea that he was
working amidst highly flammable materials. “We just ran out on hearing the explosion,” said the
labourer undergoing treatment at Vikas hospital in Boisar. Most of the labourers were working overtime
on Thursday night when the incident took place and were to go home by Friday afternoon.