Three wage labourers have died and one is battling for life after coming in contact with toxic gas at the Calcutta Leather Complex at Bantala in South 24-Parganas district. Bantala is about 14 km from Kolkata.
The mishap took place early this morning when a group of 5-6 workers were cleaning up the drainage and waste tanks at one of the private leather processing units at the Leather Complex that has about 238-odd tanneries.
While carrying out the task without wearing adequate safety gears, masks etc, four of the workers fell ill. They were taken to a local government hospital by co-workers and private security guards; the hospital refereed them to the Chittaranjan National Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.
Three of them, Chandi Pramanik, Amiya Pramanik and Ashok Mondal, were declared brought dead. Another worker, Bhola Mondal, is now battling for life at the Medical College and Hospital.
Angry over this, both the wage labourers and contractual workers demonstrated at the Leather Complex for about two hours. They alleged that most of the tanneries there lack safety mechanism and do not provide safety gears to the workers; they demanded that the next of kin of the deceased workers should be paid Rs 15 lakh each.
The head of the local Trinamool Congress unit alleged that the tanneries at the Leather Complex have been functioning by flouting safety rules because of the backing of Imran Khan, the son of Bengal fire services minister Javed Khan.
Imran Khan, who has a number of tanneries and is the secretary of the Batntala Tannery Association, brushed aside the allegation.