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Pune Police arrest driver of tanker that overturned, led to leak of highly inflammable, toxic gas | Pune News

A day after the leak of highly inflammable and toxic ethylene oxide from a tanker that overturned near Vadgaon Sheri Chowk on the Pune-Ahmednagar Highway in the early hours of Monday, the police have arrested the driver of the tanker on charges of rash driving and negligent conduct related to combustible matter.

After a high-risk operation that lasted 16 hours and consisted of fire brigade personnel, officials from the company that operated the tanker and the police said the leak, which started around 12.45 am on Monday, was controlled around 5 pm. On Tuesday, a First Information Report was registered at Yerawada police station against the driver of the tanker identified as Rajaram Dubari Varma (51) who hails from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Police have invoked Indian Penal Code sections 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way) and 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) along with relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act.

After the accident, Varma was admitted to the hospital after he complained of respiratory distress due to suspected toxic exposure. He was subsequently released after receiving primary treatment. He was placed under arrest on Tuesday. The tanker, which was operated by Balaji Road Services Transport, was taking the ethylene oxide gas from Reliance Petrochemicals plant at Nagothane in Mumbai to a factory in Osmanabad.
When asked whether any probe would be conducted on the safety measures taken and post accident responses on the part of the office-bearers of the private companies, Senior Inspector Balkrushna Kadam said, “It was an accident. All possible measures were taken after the accident and the leak was controlled.”

Fire Department officials said that it was certainly a high risk operation and saw deployment of 10 fire tenders and 80 firefighters led by six officers. Ethylene oxide being a very toxic and highly flammable gas, the risk of accident remained throughout the 16 hour long operation, officials said.
After the incident, the local police had cordoned off the area and the traffic on Pune-Ahmednagar Highway was diverted. While diversions helped in ensuring that there were no major traffic jams, the incident did result in significantly slowing down the traffic from 8 am in the morning till 6 pm in the evening.

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