Representative image.

KOLKATA: Kolkata Police’s cybercrime department has registered a complaint of online outrage of modesty against unknown men based on a complaint by a 22-year-old Jadavpur University student.
“We have got her complaint and are verifying the facts now. We will also speak to the victim and others she has mentioned in the complaint as the case progresses,” said a senior officer of Kolkata Police.
The woman, a resident of Regent Park in South Kolkata said cops had called her up on Wednesday night after she had sent a note at Kolkata police cyber crime department’s official email address, highlighting online abuse alleging unknown men for sharing her social media pictures on Instagram and whatsapp groups and making derogatory remarks on her body parts.
“The officer asked me to come down to Lalbazar and lodge an official written complaint. But I told them that it is not possible for me to travel so far as I do not have personal transport. The officer then guided me of a format and draft a formal complaint letter accordingly and send it to them. I have done so and I just want cops to act fast on the abusers and take stern action against the men,” said the victim.
The incident comes a day after Delhi police arrested the administrator of an Instagram private chat group named Bois Locker Room, where teenage boys planned gangrape and made derogatory remarks on random girls.
“Back in January this year, I had received a text message on my Instagram chat from an unknown youth who sent me a screenshot of a whatsapp chat. The screenshot had a photograph of mine where random men were commenting on my private parts and were verbally fantasising of sexually assaulting me. I had asked the youth the details of the men. He said he was a part of the group but felt bad when he saw my image popping up and thought of warning me. He said some the men were from my university only but didn’t reveal their names and hadn’t replied to my next few queries,” the woman told TOI.
The woman said she had initially ignored the matter but after the Delhi locker room incident surfaced, she thought of letting the cops know about such men in Kolkata too and expose them.

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The fresh infections have been reported a day after a 45-year-old inmate, facing charges under the narcotics act, tested positive for the novel virus.

Image for representation: Reuters


  • As many as 77 inmates and 26 staff members in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail have tested positive for Covid-19
  • The fresh infections have been reported a day after a 45-year-old inmate tested positive
  • After the report of one positive case in the jail on Wednesday, tests were conducted on all the inmates and staffers

As many as 77 inmates and 26 staff members in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail have tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. Most of them are asymptomatic.

The fresh infections have been reported a day after a 45-year-old inmate, facing charges under the narcotics act, tested positive for the novel virus.

After the report of one positive case in the jail on Wednesday, tests were conducted on all the inmates and staffers. Their results came on Thursday, in which, 77 inmates and 26 staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh also confirmed that 77 jail inmates and 26 jail officials have tested positive for coronavirus.

Deshmukh said that a coronavirus patient was found in one of the barracks of the jail after which all the inmates and jail officials of that barrack were tested. The test results came on Thursday, in which, 77 jail inmates and 26 jail officials were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus, Deshmukh said.

“Testing was done for two days. After two days of testing, the results are out and a total of 77 jail inmates and 26 jail officials have tested positive for coronavirus. Now, a total of 103 people inside the Arthur Road jail have tested positive,” Deshmukh said.

All positive inmates will be shifted to GT Hospital and St George Hospital in guarded vehicles on Friday morning, while, staff members will be shifted separately.

Arthur Road jail is the oldest prison in Mumbai and is located opposite the Kasturba Hospital – nodal hospital in for Covid treatment in Mumbai. The jail houses 2,800 undertrials, however, with a capacity of only 800, social distancing becomes difficult in the prison.

Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor is also lodged in the Arthur Road jail currently.

After 72 inmates and 26 staffers testing positive for coronavirus, around 200 more swabs have been collected.

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City-based theatre group, Shriek of Silence, have organized a day-long tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on his 159


birth anniversary on May 8. This event will take place in the form of a video series, which were pre-recorded by 73 artistes, and will be played all throughout the day from 9 am onwards on Shriek of Silence’s social media page. The primary initiators and hosts of the digital event are singer Pranati Tagore and elocutionist Soumitra Mitra. Talking about the digital show, Aapon Ghore Rabi Thakur, Pranati said, “The technical execution of the event is being done by Suprovo Tagore & Ritwika Chaudhuri of Shriek of Silence. Every year, on Rabindra Jayanti we all do various stage shows but this year the scene is completely different due to the coronavirus outbreak and the ongoing lockdown. So we thought of paying our tribute to Tagore by collaborating with over 72 artistes. They have sent us videos of their song, solo or group dance, recitation or readings of excerpts from Tagore’s work. All of this is done entirely from their homes. The videos will be streamed from 9 am onwards on May 8.” The artistes who are participating in this marathon tribute to Rabindranath Tagore include Joy Goswami, Lopamudra Mitra, Sahana Bajpaie, Subodh Sarkar, Tanushree Shankar, Srabani Sen, Jagannath Basu, Urmimala Basu, Swagatalaxmi Dasgupta, Saheb Chatterjee and Pranati herself, among others. Interdisciplinary artiste Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee, who is also a part of the show, said, “”I have sung for this online homage. My song is Aloker Ei Jhornadharaye. The idea of the show is to talk about light and hope in these dismal times.”

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A major gas leak from a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam occured early on Thursday and quickly spread to villages in a five-kilometre radius, killing at least 11 people and affecting thousands. Among the dead were two children aged 6 and 9 years. A large number of domestic animals, pets and plants have also been impacted.

Many collapsed to the ground as they tried to escape the toxic vapours. Hours after the leak, scores of people could be seen lying unconscious on sidewalks, near ditches and on the road, raising fears of a major industrial disaster.

The death toll from the incident could go up with at least 20 people on ventilator support. 193 including 44 children are undergoing treatment at Visakhapatnam’s King George Hospital. 66 patients are admitted in private hospitals. 57 people are being treated at Vizag Community Health Centre.

How did the events unfold?

The styrene gas leaked around 2.30 am on Thursday (May 7) from a chemical factory called LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd in RR Venkatapuram village near Visakhapatnam.

Here’s a timeline of what happened shortly after the leak, according to police:

3.25 am: Arun Kumar (Citizen) called Dial 100 and informed about gas leakage to VSKP City Police Control Room. Immediately, control room staff alerted Gopalapatanam Station Staff.

3:26 am: Sub Inspector Satyanarayana with four PCs (PC 4002, 4016, 4017, 4018) left for RR Venkatapuram village by the Rakshak vehicle.

3.35 am: Sub Inspector Satyanarayana along with his staff reached RR Venkatapuram and realised the criticality of the situation and relayed the information to Marripalem Fire Station and also to ambulance.

Meanwhile, CI of Kancharapalem (night In-charge), RI Bhagavan, Ganesh SI (Gajuwaka PS) rushed to the scene.

(Photo: PTI)

3:40 am: Police started the evacuation process, shifting affected people to the safe zone. Proactively, all 4,500 families living in the vicinity were evacuated. Police barged into houses and woke up sleeping families and shifted them.

City Control alerted all Rakshaks and highway patrolling vehicles. Meanwhile, 2 QRT teams were deployed.

3:45 am: Fire department staff reached the scene and augmented efforts of police with fire fighting vehicle and alerted the people of the village.

12 Rakshaks, six 108 vehicles, four highway patrolling vehicles reached the spot between 3.45 am and 4 am and evacuated the families from RR Venkatapuram, R Venkatadri Nagar, SC/BC Colony (4500 families).

4:30 am: CP Vizag and DCP Zone 2 personally participated in the evacuation operation and went from house to house to ensure that citizens are moved to safety. DCP Zone 2 due to inhalation of the gas suffered symptoms of poisoning.

(Photo: PTI)

In this entire operation, RI T Bhagwan, CI Ramanniah, SI Satyanarayana and PC Nagaraju have been hospitalized. 20 police personnel are suffering from mild symptoms.

After 7.00 am, NDRF and SDRF teams reached the location and participated in rescue operations.

What is styrene? How toxic is it?

Styrene is an organic compound used in the manufacture of polymers/plastic/resins. It is manufactured in petrochemical refineries. It is a likely carcinogenic substance. It can react with oxygen in the air to mutate into styrene dioxide which is more lethal. According to India’s Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989, styrene is classified as a ‘hazardous and toxic chemical’.

Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic (long-term) exposure results in impacts on the central nervous system (CNS), leading to headaches, fatigue, weakness, depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy. If the amount of styrene goes beyond 800 ppm, then the person exposed to it can go into a coma.

READ MORE | Vizag killer: What is styrene gas that leaked in Andhra Pradesh?

The duration of the exposure and its relative concentration will determine toxicity. Currently, it is known that roughly 3 tonnes of the gas leaked from its storage tank and the feeding line.

Why did the disaster take place? What was the cause?

Styrene monomer was being used at the manufacturing plant to produce expandable plastics. The storage requirement of styrene monomer said that it should be stored strictly at a temperature below 17oC.

There was a temporary partial shutdown of the plant due to Covid-19 lockdown, excluding maintenance activities in the plant, which were being carried out as per a pre-determined schedule. The problem began as a result of styrene gas not being stored at the appropriate temperature. This caused pressure to build up in the storage chamber and led the valve to break, resulting in the gas leakage.

Also, the container that was being used to store styrene gas was old and not properly maintained. The gas was stored in two tanks with a total capacity of 5 metric tonnes. This non-maintenance of the facility resulted in the leakage of 3 tonnes of styrene into the surrounding areas.

Another issue was the defunct VOC detection system at the plant; there is no monitoring mechanism that was installed to specifically detect styrene. The facility is spread over 600 acres of land including the nearby residential areas (according to terms of reference submitted by the company in 2018, it is spread over 231 acres). The impact zone has been in the range of 2-3 km. There is a village nearby and the facility is surrounded by residential areas, resulting in a higher rate of exposure.

The most important immediate treatment is to give oxygen to the affected people. The people in the zone also need to be evacuated as long-term exposure can be detrimental to their health.

In 2018, the factory had submitted a Rs 168 crore proposal to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to expand its production capacity by another 250 tonnes per day (tpd) — from the current 415 tpd. This permission, as we understand it, has been recently granted.

What are the guidelines for storing chemicals at plants?

Post-Bhopal gas tragedy, clear guidelines have been issued for storage of hazardous chemicals at plants. After the Bhopal disaster, many legislations were enacted beginning with the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.

According to The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, styrene is classified as a ‘hazardous and toxic chemical’.

Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 rules say: “Set discharge and product standards – source standards for restricting pollution; product standards for manufactured goods and ambient air and water standards – for regulating quality of life and environmental protection.”

Hazardous Waste (management, handling and trans-boundary movement) Rules, 1989 says, “Industry required to identify major accident hazards, take preventive measures and submit a report to the designated authorities.”

Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989: “Importer must furnish complete product safety information to the competent authority and must transport imported chemicals in accordance with the amended rules.”

Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996: “Centre is required to constitute a central crisis group for management of chemical accidents; set up quick response mechanism termed as the crisis alert system. Each state is required to set up a crisis group and report on its work.”

Factories Amendment Act, 1987: “Provision to regulate siting of hazardous units; safety of workers and nearby residents and mandates for on-site emergency plans and disaster control measures.”

Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991: “Imposes a no-fault liability on the owner of hazardous substance and requires the owner to compensate victims of accident irrespective of any neglect or default. For this, the owner is required to take out an insurance policy covering potential liability from any accident.”

Did the company not follow the stipulated rules for storage and handling of hazardous chemicals?

There are clear rules on hazardous chemical storage under the EPA, 1986. The unit in question is an ISO-certified facility, which means it has a protocol for everything.

However, what seems to be the case is that the plant management, in its haste to re-start the plant, ignored the protocol of doing maintenance of the plant before resuming operations. This, combined with the lack of proper storage of the gas – not maintained at the temperature required – and faulty fixtures could have resulted in the accident.

Vizag could be just a tip of the iceberg

This shows us that there are ticking bombs out there as the lockdown ends and industries start resuming activities. Therefore, an immediate directive must go to all units to ensure safety while resuming operations — in case the lockdown continues, these safety precautions must not be negated.

(With inputs from Ashish Pandey)

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