Ahmedabad: Two owners of private firm among 6 held for trying to dispose of acid in open area

Two owners of a private company and four others have been arrested for attempt to culpable homicide by allegedly trying to dispose of over 60,000 litres of rejected hydrochloric acid without effluent treatment plant (ETP) process at a residential area in Ahmedabad.

Gandhinagar Police Local Crime Branch said Bajrang Lal Agarwal, managing director of Asian Tubes Limited company, Aditya Agarwal, director at Asian Tubes Limited, Bipin Suthar, manager at Asian Tubes Limited, Jakshi Bharwad, owner of two tankers, and Ramesh Modhw-adiya and Chandra Prakash Rawat, drivers of the tankers, were arrested on Saturday.

According to police, on May 31 night, a joint operation was conducted by Gandhinagar LCB and Gujarat State Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in which two tankers parked under suspicious circumstances were found near Janpath petrol pump on Mehsana-Ahmedabad highway in Kalol city of Gandhinagar.

On checking and testing the sample content, the GPCB officials found 60,000 litres of rejected hydrochloric acid in the two vehicles which were being disposed of without ETP process as prescribed by the GPCB.

“We detained drivers Ramesh Modhwadiya and Chandra Prakash Rawat with two tankers filled with rejected hydrochloric acid. During interrogation, the accused told us that they were driving the tankers from Asian Tube Limited company’s factory in Chhatral of Kalol to be dumped in a water body, gutter or open land in Vatva or Odhav area,” said an LCB officer.

“The act of dumping untreated acid waste in residential areas could have posed serious harm to civilians as well as animals. The drivers said that it was Bipin Suthar, manager at Asian Tube company, who told the owner of vehicles Jakshi Bharwad, to ask the drivers to take the tankers towards the Vatva area,” the officer added.

“While checking at the Asian Tube Limited factory in Kalol, we found that there was no bill or receipt of the two tankers exiting the factory premises and it was sanctioned by manager Suthar at the exit gate. Suthar was acting as per instructions of MD Bajrang Lal Agarwal and Director Aditya Agarwal,” the officer said.

All accused have been booked under IPC 308 for attempt to commit culpable homicide, 277 for corrupting or fouling the water of any public spring or reservoir, 278 for making atmosphere noxious for health, 120b for criminal conspiracy along with sections of Environment Protection Act and Water Pollution Act.

According to police, the accused directors of the company wanted to save money by skipping the ETP process.

“The company had procured the hydrochloric acid to remove rust from the mild steel coils produced at the factory. After the process, the remaining hydrochloric acid must be treated at the ETP plant on the factory premises where acid is neutralised with lime and solid waste is generated as byproduct. However, this process is expensive and time consuming and hence the company directors decided to dispose of the rejected acid,” police said.

With the arrest police claimed to have unearthed a nexus of tanker owners disposing off chemical waste in a harmful manner. “The owner of two tankers Jakshi Bharwad revealed that he has been renting out his vehicles for disposing of waste illegally for the past 10 years and has made more than 50 such trips by his drivers for 10 private companies in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Anand, Khambat and Dahej. Further investigation is on,” police said.

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