Rajahmundry (AP), June 30: Gas Authority of India today distributed ex-gratia amount of over Rs 4.60 crore to the next of kin of the deceased and families of those injured in the devastating fire at the company's pipeline in a village in East Godavari district last week.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister N Chinna Rajappa distributed the compensation cheques to members of the affected families here in the presence of officials from GAIL and district administration. At least 20 people have died so far in the tragedy, which took place when an apparently leaking GAIL pipeline passing through Nagaram village under Mamidikuduru mandal caught fire on June 27.
The number of injured stood at 19.
"A sum of Rs 23 lakh (Rs 20 lakh from GAIL and Rs 3 lakh from AP Government) each has been paid to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each to those who suffered severe burns and undergoing treatment at Amalapuram, Kakinada and Rajahmundry hospitals," the Deputy chief Minister said.
Rajappa, who is also the Home Minister, said the State Government is making efforts to get Rs 2 lakh each more as ex- gratia to the families of the deceased from the Centre. Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy CM asked the oil and gas companies to adhere to global standards while setting up their pipelines.
"We are holding talks with oil companies in this regard and have urged them to take all necessary steps, including preventive steps, using modern technology to prevent such incidents in the future." "We will conduct a survey of the existing pipelines. We are suggesting the companies to keep the pipelines away from residential colonies," Rajappa said.
The Government will re-construct 16 houses which were completely gutted, he said, adding their occupants will be temporarily shifted by the administration. He said Rs 5,000 each has been provided to the fire-hit families to purchase essential commodities.
"We are also collecting the data in regard to the coconut trees lost in the fire. We will provide compensation to coconut farmers also." GAIL Director (Projects) A Karnatak said a special probe is being conducted into the fire and assured to provide infrastructure facilities and rehabilitate the village.
He said GAIL has adhered to international standards in setting up its pipelines in the country.