A piece of jaggery is the only "safety measure" that employees working in production units of pharma companies in the city get for working in an environment they refer to as "hell".
"The pharma companies distribute a piece of jaggery to their employees at the main gate when they leave. The jaggery supposedly works as an antibiotic and helps prevent diseases, which we are vulnerable to during work," says Ramakrishna, a daily-wager working at the Mylan pharma company, located adjacent to Bharath Inc where a major fire gutted property worth crores of rupees.
He adds: "Working in production units of pharma companies is like hell. We have no safety measures though we work in the most accident-prone zone of the unit."
Recalling the fire and subsequent explosion Wednesday morning, Ramakrishna said: "I had just returned after participating in the Independence Day celebrations held in our company when I saw sky-high flames emanating from Bharath Inc."
"About five families, who work in various departments in that company, live there. I ran towards Bharath Inc wondering about their safety. Luckily, all of them had gone out for the holiday," he said.
Ramakrishna, who alerted the police, said that fires, both minor and major, frequently take place in pharma companies. "The companies do not provide proper safety measures," he rues.
Amarender, who works in another company nearby, said that this was one of the biggest fires he had seen in the industrial area. "There were quite a few fires earlier, but Wednesday's mishap was shocking as the huge fire appeared to spread everywhere," he said. "Fires occur in pharma companies, especially in production units where reactors are installed, due to overload or intensity of the heat," he added.
Meanwhile, a few hours after the fire started, police announced evacuation notices through microphones as foul smell was emanating from the flames and it was a potential health hazard. Police also diverted the traffic through the road leading to Bharath Inc.
Heeding the request of the fire service officials, the electricity department temporarily cut the power supply to the industrial area.