Wednesday, June 23, 2021
HomeEditorialGAIL gas pipeline explosion is an unexpected tragedy

GAIL gas pipeline explosion is an unexpected tragedy

One more tragic day! Old and rusted gas pipeline leakage belonging to GAIL in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district burst and fire spread in the vicinity which killed at least 15 people and injured seven others. What a tragedy! Indian Government must improve the standards of their ongoing projects. We can avoid such mishap by privatisation and proper monitoring. Everyday some kind of major incidents are happening and people are losing their loved ones. Government should take some major steps to protect the citizens. History shows that many gas pipeline accidents happened due to poor quality of workmanship especially welding. One should verify before coming to any conclusion on the fire accidents on such pipelines. Thorough investigation should be done before passing the material, welding consumables, and weld joint quality acceptance level through radiography. Public sector companies like ONGC, GAIL use experienced contractors but third party inspection agencies are having little knowledge on such critical pipelines.

From Prime Minister to Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh fulfilled their formalities by tweeting the condolences over social network. Irony is that, no minister or authority visited the people or place after the incident. As usual, PM has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs.2 lakh from Prime Minister Relief Fund, for the next of kin those who have lost their lives in the GAIL pipeline fire. The relief announced by the PM is in addition to the relief assistance given by the Petroleum Ministry and GAIL. An ex-gratia relief of Rs.50,000 has also been sanctioned for those who were seriously injured in the incident. Injured person’s families will require more money than this for treatments whereas family which has lost a member suffers throughout their life. Can we go beyond the token compensation to victims or announcing another set of useless formation of committees? This is not the way to solve the problem but saving your face from public anger. As it usually happens, people will forget the incident and recommendation of the committee will be lying beneath the files of babus. And then the same process follows. It seems that whoever may form the government in India, it is the people of India who are always at loss.

Government should be more cautious and careful about the security measures at such places. It could be just the matter of profit & loss for the project department of GAIL. To expedite the engineering to meet schedule is the only aim of project department. All they want is to finish their work on time without focusing on the accuracy. Manufacturing defects which are again the result of bad attitude of an Indian worker and “saving the money to increase profit” philosophy almost sucks. No proper inspection and testing have been done to check the security aspect and they give the clearance to the project. They need a stamp and a signature on their datasheets or test plans. Many of them don’t even look at the requirements of applicable codes and standards. Politics, Greed, Laziness, Ego and “Job Haters on the job” are the base reasons. The GAIL and ONGC should have to review the safety measures of the gas pipelines laid by them across the country to save other lives. The government should probe on the incidents and take appropriate safety measures instead of rushing to the spot during such movements.

Here the big question is that, why ONGC has allowed families to live in such close proximity when it is a known fact that it is extremely dangerous. This area already had suffered with same kind of serious blast in the past. This is nothing but apathy of ONGC officials who are least bothered about lives and their only job is to fly in helicopters and stay in AC rooms at the site and enjoy handsome salaries. All the ministers will turn up to douse the flames of anger, and to cover wool over the eyes of the sufferer. There should be a ministry for disaster prevention, and rapid response. This incident will soon be forgotten and replaced by another one. Train accidents, Gas leakages, Flyover mishaps, Building collapse etc., are not a mere coincidence, they are a consequence of our lack of conscience and common sense. Let’s hope, pipeline project should also get environmental clearance; the pipe is hardly 5 foot below the ground.

Whatever they say, this was a horrifying incident. The responsible groups have to be severely penalised if they are found guilty in following inappropriate design, construction and operation route. The investigation should reveal the actual findings and be published in the public domain. The blast rocked an 18-inch pipeline that supplied gas to a power plant operated by Lanco Infratech Ltd. GAIL’s shares declined 0.74 per cent at 10:12 am. GAIL is the country’s largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company and its website shows it has a pipeline that transports liquefied natural gas in the area of the explosion. Human losses can never be recovered, what government can do is strengthen the safety for future.

May their souls Rest in Peace.

Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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