In the light of risks posed by hazardous chemicals (HAZCHEM) in India, examine India’s preparedness in Chemical Disaster Management (CDM).
India has a thriving chemical industry, as well as other heavy industries that are reliant on chemical engineering operations. Iron and steel, thermal power, refrigeration plants and fertilizer industries are among these. In the light of various chemical disasters happened in past, it is necessary to be prepared to deal with chemical disasters.
Preparedness in Chemical Disaster Management:
- National Disaster Management authority has released guidelines.
- Nodal ministry has been designated for chemical disaster management.
- Standard operating procedures have been designed for processes involving chemical reactions.
- Restrict Disaster Management have prepared early warning protocols as well as evacuation plans.
- National Disaster Response Force has been trained and equipped to respond to chemical disasters.
- Different government authorities & Customs Department oversee import of hazardous chemicals.
However, there are some gaps in CDM, such as:
- Lack of regular factory inspections to ensure adherence to safety norms.
- Sometimes SOPs are violated and key chemical units started without qualified personnel being present, e.g. Vizag disaster.
- Regulatory framework governing the import of chemicals is complex.
- Post Disaster and Relief related issues –
- NDRF may not be able to respond in time; hence SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) should be trained too.
- Holding the plant operator liable, to recover damages and thus compensate victims.
- Hearth infrastructure may not be able to may cope with large number of victims requiring specialized care.
chemical disasters are a threat to life and health of individuals. They also affect public faith in safety of chemical industries. Therefore it is necessary to streamline management of such disasters speedily.