Ammonia leakage: Owner of cold storage to be arrested

Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Monday ordered arrest of the owner of the cold storage where an ammonia gas leakage affected nearly 3,000 people in Nager Bazar area here.

"Many names came up as the owner of the cold storage. But we have found that the actual owner is Kishore Sambani. I have ordered his arrest. We will have to see that he is not released on bail once he is arrested," Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee told newsmen.

Pointing out that the gas was found leaking through the three valves, Chatterjee said they have been repaired.

He claimed that although ammonia had been leaking from the facility for the past six days, his department was not aware of it.

The fire brigade was informed of the leak at 4.15 pm yesterday and two fire tenders with a crew of 14 were sent to the spot, he said, adding that the firemen did not carry any breathing equipment initially.

In a reply to a query, he then said that although the equipment was later taken to the spot, those did not function.

A team of the state Disaster Management Group had also reached the spot but they could not do much.

The situation was finally brought under control by a team of the BSF, the minister said.

Chatterjee said the cold storage was located in a narrow lane and did not have the necessary clearance from the Fire department.

"I do not know how the owner got the trade licence from the (Kolkata Municipal) Corporation," he said.

When pointed out that the Corporation had been mainly under the control of the Left Front since 1977, he said, "I will not reply to political questions."