Local Goa News

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

200 evacuated from GU science block

Panaji: More than 200 people including students and faculty members had to be evacuated from the new science block at Goa University on Wednesday evening, after a platform containing a rack of chemical bottles collapsed, breaking the bottles, which led to mixing of the chemicals and forming toxic hydrochloric acid (HCL) fumes.
A disaster was averted as HCL fumes are known to cause damage to human eyes, throat and mucous membranes with acute inhalation. Only weeks ago, students and professors escaped a false ceiling collapse with minor injuries at the same science block.
The new science block was constructed by the Goa state infrastructure development corporation (GSIDC) for the Goa University and became operational in June 2013, but accidents due to structural faults have been plaguing the university with two false ceiling collapses in the past and now this. "We are pursuing the matter of repairs for the science block with the GSIDC. Recently, they had rectified some faults in the toilets at the science block, where the tap sensors were not working," said GU registrar Y V Reddy.
"Fumes of hydrochloric acid were generated due to a reaction from mixing of all the chemicals. The incident took place at around 4pm and as the chemicals are highly inflammable, fire service personnel had to be called in to control the fumes and other damage from the corrosive chemicals. The fumes can lead to damage to human eyes and throat if there is prolonged exposure to them," said a source. The fumes from the chemicals had soon spread through the building and students and faculty members were evacuated to prevent any damage to life.
"Though it was known that the building would house the chemistry department, the pipes fitted are made of plastic and can easily degenerate when chemicals used at the department flow through the pipes. No exhaust has been provided in the chemical store either, to let out the fumes in case of incidents like the one on Wednesday," said a student.
Following the false ceiling collapse at the building last month, when TOI contacted GSIDC officials, they said that the three-year maintenance period for the structure was already over. GU officials inform that GSIDC authorities, however, did carry out an inspection following the TOI report. No repairs have been initiated since though.
Students and faculty members are in fear of the false ceilings falling apart part by part, especially during heavy rains.
Corrossive Constructions
The three-year-old GU science block was contructed by GSIDC-appointed contractor D S Contractors Pvt Ltd and consultants Effective architectural services.
Wires are seen dangling dangerously as the false ceilings have started falling apart. Faculty members and students had complained to the university administration about this within two years after the building was opened.
One faculty member was injured in the past after a part of the ceiling collapsed while the teacher was working at the laboratory.
The new science block was built at a cost of Rs47 crore.

TOI Goa News

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