At least 15 persons were burnt alive and 20 persons were injured on Friday morning in a massive explosion resulting from a gas leak at an 18-inch pipeline operated by Gas Authority of India (GAIL) at Nagaram village in East Godavari village. The victims were all residents of the village. Relief operations are underway at the site after the fire was brought under control. Following the incident, GAIL shut down the recently-built pipeline.
The incident occurred close to ONGC's Tatipaka refinery. The pipeline which carries gas to Nagarjuna and Godavari Fertilisers and Chemicals in Kakinada and is maintained by GAIL. “Efforts are now underway for rescue and relief operations. The cause for the blast is being assessed,” GAIL chairman BC Tripathi said. “The leakage occurred in an 18-inch pipeline of the company near the ONGC refinery complex. The reasons for the accident are not known yet. We are currently focused on rescue and relief operations,” he added.
The gas leak from the pipeline spread to some of the neighbouring homes of the residents and the huge flames leaping out of the pipeline gutted scores of houses and shops near the blast site. Villagers ran out of their houses in panic as the fire, accompanied by loud blasts, engulfed a large area of the village. They claimed that the gas has been leaking for the last 10 days and that the company officials did not bother about the leakage.
Minister of state (independent charge) for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered a high-level inquiry into the explosion. The inquiry will be undertaken by a committee headed by joint secretary, ministry of petroleum and natural gas, an executive director each from oil marketing company HPCL and the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) and a nominee from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
The Andhra government has ordered an inquiry and will set an action plan to avoid similar accidents in future, said chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.
Pradhan for statutory safety body for oil & gas industry
New Delhi, June 27: With more than a dozen people killed in a deadly fire at a gas pipeline in Andhra Pradesh, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan expressed shock at the lack of a statutory body for formulating safety measures for the oil and gas industry.
The Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), under the petroleum ministry, carries out safety audits of oil and gas installations, besides formulating and standardising procedures and guidelines for design, operation and maintenance. However, the body lacks statutory authority.
Then oil minister S Jaipal Reddy had in August 2012 suggested giving statutory powers to OISD but the proposal has not materialised so far.
"When I came to this ministry, I was shocked to learn that there is no statutory authority for safety and security. This is a concern," Pradhan said here.
The new government, he said, would work towards giving statutory powers to OISD, which currently is only a recommendatory body. The fire at state gas utility GAIL India's pipeline this morning follows a minor fire at HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd's Bhatinda refinery earlier this month. No one was injured in the fire at Bhatinda refinery. PTI