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601 fall ill after release of chemical waste

As many as 601 residents of Ulhasnagar area here were hospitalised after they experienced breathing problems following release of a hazardous chemical in a water stream apparently after a chemical tanker was cleaned there, a senior official said today.

“A total of 601 people were admitted in five hospitals yesterday and except a few, all others have been discharged,” said Balaji Khatgaonkar, Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner.

The affected people, after they complained of breathing problems, burning sensation in the eyes and giddiness problems yesterday, were admitted to the Central hospital, Kamgar hospital, Trimurti hospital, Sadanand hospital and Shivneri hospital.

As of now, 23 people are admitted in Kamgar hospital and 11 in Central hospital. They will be discharged by today evening, he said.

The hazardous material first got mixed in a stream in neighbouring Ambernath. When this polluted water while flowing reached Ulhasnagar, the people living near Waldhuni river started experiencing some side-effects yesterday like giddiness and burning sensation in the eyes, he said.

“Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation, police personnel and officials of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board sprung into action as soon as we got information of this toxic material which, on mixing with water had turned into a poisonous gas and created panic among the people living in the periphery of the water body,” he said.

Efforts were made to ensure that those affected were given medical aid immediately, he added.

Ambernath police had yesterday registered a case against unidentified persons under sections 277 (fouling water of reservoir or public spring) and 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health) of the IPC.

Empty chemical tankers are usually cleaned at the spot from where the hazardous waste is suspected to have entered the river, police had earlier said.

Ulhasnagar tehsildar Varsha Pawar demanded a ban on cleaning of the chemical tankers near the river and also to stop release of chemical waste from industrial areas of Ambernath into the water body.

Local MLA Jyoti Kalani also demanded a complete ban on cleaning of tankers on the river banks and strict punishment for violators.

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