GAIL explosion: No lessons learnt from past

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File Photo, Union Carbide Factory which caused Bhopal Gas tragedy in 1984. Image- Wikipedia
The explosion at a major gas pipeline of state-owned Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in Andhra Pradesh has claimed over a dozen lives. More than 50 houses and shops were gutted in the massive fire caused in an 18-inch pipeline of the company near ONGC refinery complex. This mishap raises the question that how equipped are Indian companies to prevent these at first place else have proper safety measures in place to prevent loss of precious human lives.

Andhra Pradesh alone has reported at least 3 similar gas pipeline incidents in just one year, but it seems no lessons were learnt from the past mistakes.

Safety of employees at industrial sites is top priority of every company, but the news of fatal accidents at such places has become a daily affair. Country has witnessed a series of such industrial hazards in the past few months which questions the tall claims made by authorities over upgradation of safety measures. 

March 18, 2014: Seven workers at a dying unit died in Perundurai, near Erode after inhaling toxic gas.

June 5, 2014: 54 people went unconscious in Tuticorin after inhaling harmful ammonia gas that leaked from a cold storage plant.

June 12, 2014: Six were killed and 29 were injured after leakage of poisonous gas at Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh.

mishaps in the past point towards lack of safety measures at work places

All these and scores of other instances of industrial mishaps in the past point towards lack of safety measures at work places.

India had in the past witnessed several major industrial disasters which still send shivers in people's memories. Infamous of them all are 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 1965 Dhanbad coal mine disaster and the 1975 Chasnala mining disaster. But, it seems we haven't learnt from the past experiences and put no safety measures in place to prevent such loss of lives.

Even at public places like petrol pumps, gas stations, hospitals, restaurants, etc. (which are prone to fires) one could easily find that no proper arrangements are put in place to tackle such an emergency situation. The fire extinguishers installed at such places either turn outdated or stop functioning after sometime but neither the shop owners nor the authorities concerned show enough precautions in this regard.

Cases of explosions at the sites of fire cracker factories are very frequent. All these units are set up in remote or village areas where men, women and even children work together. Explosions at such sites have revealed that there were hardly any precautionary measures put in place to prevent an untoward incident.

It is the duty of both State and Central Government to ensure installation of appropriate safety equipment. There is a need to strictly impose proper disaster management guidelines and authorities concerned must constantly monitor them. Strict fines and punishments must be meted out to those who fail to comply with the rules and regulations.

The new regime at Centre can set examples by imposing ban over violators for risking public lives and properties. This would be a challenge in front of the Narendra Modi Government to address this issue which is generally neglected.

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