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At least 50,000 bags of chilli were stored at the time of the fire accident
Loss estimated to be between Rs. 15 crore and Rs. 18 crore: in-charge Collector
Inferno:Thick smoke billowing out after flames engulf the cold storage unit at Ankireddipalem in Guntur district
GUNTUR: A major fire broke out in Sri Sai Surya cold storage godown at Ankireddipalem near here in the early hours of Wednesday causing a loss estimated to be between Rs. 15 crore and Rs. 18 crore. An electric short circuit is said to have caused the fire. There were at least 50,000 bags of chilli in the unit at the time of mishap, according to in-charge Collector A. Sarath.
As news of the fire spread, farmers who had stored their produce in the godown, rushed to the spot and staged a demonstration demanding that the authorities pay compensation of Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 10,000 a quintal which is equivalent to the market price.
Traffic on the National Highway-5 connecting Chennai to Kolkata came to a standstill as the agitated farmers stopped vehicular movement.
They refused to move till the authorities gave them an assurance about the compensation. However, the police moved in and forcibly dispersed the angry farmers.
Hundreds of passengers in APSRTC buses and other vehicles found it difficult to breathe and complained of burning sensation in the eyes as the thick and pungent smoke billowing from the godown blew towards them.
Mr. Sarath told The Hindu that the loss could be between Rs. 15 crore and Rs 18 crore. He said the management of the cold storage unit will have to pay compensation to the farmers failing which penal action will be taken against it.
As this is the second incident of a cold storage godown catching fire in a span of ten days, a fresh round of fire safety audit is sought to be done by the Fire Services Department and the district officials. Meanwhile, the Guntur RDO ordered an inquiry into the fire accident.
On April 16, fire had broken out on the third floor of Nandini Cold Storage unit, also located alongside the NH-5.
On both occasions, foul play was suspected on the part of the cold storage managements which is the reason why a thorough probe has been ordered.
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