Blast in IISc Bengaluru: Modi-promoted private company on govt campus and payroll, why?

In PM Modi’s presence, an MoU was signed between ONGC and a private company. Questions are being asked why a private company was allowed to function inside India’s premier science research centre?

NH Photo
NH Photo

Abhishek Srivastava

In a strange turn of events, the Bengaluru police have booked two Indian Institute of Science (IISc) professors after a blast took place in the institute’s lab in which one person was killed and three were severely injured on Wednesday. The booked professors G Jagadeesh and KPJ Reddy are in charge of the Hypersonic and Shock Wave Research Lab in the prestigious Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru.

Interestingly, the institute that did not release a single press statement about the nature of the tragedy but the very next day its head of security Chandrashekhar filed a complaint with the Sadashiv Nagar police claiming that these two professors were responsible for ensuring safety.

Is this well-reputed science institute trying to hide something? Without allowing the police due investigation of the site of the accident, why did the administration hastily file a complaint against its two professors? Is it just a matter of safety and negligence, that is being reflected in the IPC sections 304A (causing death by negligence) and 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) imposed upon the professors?

The media coverage of the blast that occurred on Wednesday, December 5, in IISc’s Hypersonic and Shock Wave Research Lab was unanimous in reporting that it had happened due to a blast in “Hydrogen Cylinder”. The information regarding the deceased, his position and age varied in initial reports. After that there was no follow-up of the story. To quote The New Indian Express, “the campus seems to have clamped down on the flow of information even to the police. The premier institute, which on Wednesday chose not to share any information about the Laboratory of Hyersonic and Shock Wave Research, the site of the incident, did not release any more information on the nature of the lab or work being carried out there, when the accident occurred.”

Private Company, Government Premises

The Hypersonic and Shock Wave Research Lab, which is being headed by IISc Professors Jagadeesh and Reddy, is working under a private company named Super-Wave Technology Private Limited (SWTPL). It has an independent website that says:

“Super-Wave Technology Private Limited (SWTPL) is an Indian Institute of Science initiative, promoted and managed by its Directors Dr KPJ Reddy and Dr G Jagadeesh, both professors of Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, India.”

As per Ministry of Corporate Affairs records, this company having CIN no. U33119KA2013PTC069987 and Registration no. 069987 was incorporated with a limited authorised capital of ₹10 lacs on 04/07/2013 under RoC-Bangalore. The registration address provided with RoC is “#32 (New 8) II Cross, HMT Layout, Mathikere, Bangalore” and the email id provided in the company master data is

National Herald tried to locate the company at the registration address but it was not found. There was a bungalow at the site that belonged to someone else. According to credible sources in IISc, the extension “”provided in the registered mail id is obsolete and was abandoned by the institute long ago.

The company directors are of course Professor Jagadeesh and Reddy but they are directors of another private companies too as per the RoC.

Blast in IISc Bengaluru: Modi-promoted private company on govt campus and payroll, why?

Prof Jagadeesh holds the post of director in the following companies:

Blast in IISc Bengaluru: Modi-promoted private company on govt campus and payroll, why?

Prof Reddy holds the post of director in the following companies:

Blast in IISc Bengaluru: Modi-promoted private company on govt campus and payroll, why?

Four of the companies are common where both are Directors and the latest one incorporated is PULSEWAVE BIO INNOVATIONS PRIVATE LIMITED. SHOCK FLUIDESIGN TECHNOLOGIES (OPC) is the fifth one where Prof KPJ Reddy is the Director.

As per a news link on the company website , Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Super Wave Technology Pvt Ltd (SWTPL) - a company “incorporated by Society for Innovation and Development at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore “- for the development of an alternative to hydraulic fracturing or fracking technology that is used to produce shale oil and gas. The MoU was signed in Bangalore on February 18, 2015, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, DK Sarraf (CMD, ONGC) and Prof Anurag Kumar (Director, IISc).

The link says that the research would be carried out in “fracking technology used in production of shale gas and oil”. This would mean that the Shock Wave lab where accident occurred on Wednesday, December 5, in IISc was working for a “private company” in the area of “fracking technology” headed by these two professors on the government payroll.

Blast in IISc Bengaluru: Modi-promoted private company on govt campus and payroll, why?

The Accident

The death did not occur due to a blast in Hydrogen cylinder, as reported in the media. If one had to simply under the science behind it, when Hydrogen burns, it releases a large amount of heat and energy forming water and vapour with oxygen. In such a case, one has to let the fire burn until the hydrogen is burnt up and the fire burns out on its own. It may be necessary to cool areas with water that could be endangered by the fire. As per sources present around the lab on Wednesday there was no trace of heat after blast. The blast did not release heat. So what exactly did happen?

The blast happened in the equipment that was used to create shock wave or super wave. Wikipedia says: “In physics, a shock wave or shock is a type of propagating disturbance that moves faster than the local speed of sound in the medium. Like an ordinary wave, a shock wave carries energy and can propagate through a medium but is characterized by an abrupt, nearly discontinuous, change in pressure, temperature, and density of the medium”

Shock waves make bombs more dangerous and sometimes are the most dangerous part of an explosion. However, the shock wave moves much faster than the rest of the bomb's energy, and fades away quickly. A shock wave can move through any material.

As per a senior researcher in IISc who did not want to be named, to prevent shock wave explosion in lab conditions there must be an “anti-shock technology” to neutralise the wave and prevent explosion of the equipment. Speaking to NH, the researcher raised serious doubts over the presence of such anti-shock technology in the lab. The sections under which professor duo is booked talks of “criminal negligence” that corroborates this allegation although the exact nature of “negligence” and “safety measure” has not been provided in the police complaint. In fact, there has been no counter till date anywhere to “Hydrogen Cylinder Blast” theory itself.

Who were killed and injured?

The one killed and three injured have been reported variously as “research scholars”, “engineers”, “students”, “scientists” etc in media. The exact identification can be found in a recent report in The Newsminute that says:

“According to the police, four interns, who were M.Tech students, were conducting an experiment in the lab when the incident occurred. The four men, interning with Superwave Technology Private Limited, were handling pressurised hydrogen, oxygen, helium and nitrogen gases.”

NH talked over phone to a few research students in IISc. They could not identify these names as their fellow students. A student speaking on the condition of anonymity said, “All were employees of Superwave Technology Private Limited.” The research scholar talking about the relation between IISc and the private company said, “They are misleading everyone in the name of a start-up incubation. Company was incorporated way back in 2013. How come a start-up is still being incubated after five years of incorporation? The MOU with ONGC was signed in 2015. This means there was a proper research project going on in the lab for ONGC and was funded by it with proper employees and engineers under the supervision of these two professors who are the owners of STPL.”

The manner in which the whole incident has been reported in national media just once without any proper follow-up speaks a lot. The Talk To Us tab on provides an address inside IISc campus which is self-explanatory. The same website has two more tabs Meet The Team and Products which have completely blank pages.

Now when these two professors have been booked for criminal negligence, a proper enquiry into workings of STPL and nature of accident may reveal much rot inside the institutes of “eminence” like IISc that have become safe houses for private entities and death-house for the rest.

(With inputs from Bengaluru)

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