CHENNAI: Along with a high penetration of LPG cylinders credited to urbanisation, Tamil Nadu also leads in the count of people dying from cooking gas related accidents, statistics reveal.
The State leads in the number of accidents and fatalities reported in the financial 2014-15, with over 25 per cent of all fatalities due to LPG cylinder and equipment related accidents reported in Tamil Nadu - the maximum among all states in the country by a fair margin.
Compared to the previous year, there is an alarming increase of 325 per cent in such cases.
A similar trend was visible from April-June this year, with more than 35 per cent of the country’s LPG related fatalities recorded in the State. These details were part of Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan’s reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
A total of 115 people died across the country in 262 cooking gas related accidents in 2014-15. Among those, 34 deaths in 51 such accidents were reported in Tamil Nadu.
In the current financial year till June, Tamil Nadu reported seven deaths in 12 such accidents. Across the country, 19 people lost their lives in 78 accidents during the same period. In the whole of 2013-14, eight people were killed in 12 such accidents in Tamil Nadu.
Experts said that this was a direct reflection of urbanisation in the State. As statistics reveal, after Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, the maximum number of LPG cylinders are in circulation in Tamil Nadu (see box).
“After electricity, the second major cause for fires is LPG, which accounts for 30-35 per cent. But about 15 years back, a major portion of fire accidents were due to hutments catching fire. Urbanisation has brought this change,” said S Vijaybasker, Joint Director, Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services.
Vijaybasker and Chennai based consumer activist T Sadagopan blamed the low awareness among the people for the fatalities.
“Almost everybody uses an LPG stove thanks to the welfare schemes. But awareness among users regarding stoves, leaking tubes, etc is not there,” Sadagopan opined.
Until a few years ago, the oil companies would routinely hold awareness campaigns through their dealers, but they are not as frequent nowadays, Sadagopan added.
An Oil Marketing Company official said that majority of these fatalities occurred due to misuse of domestic cylinders for commercial reasons.
“Some people died in accidents while using the 14.2 kg cylinders for an industrial burner. While we run awareness campaigns for domestic consumers, how can we do that for those using such cylinders illegally,” he said, adding that Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG (DBTL) had reduced the number of such cases of misuse.
According to Pradhan’s reply, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have reported that no LPG accidents have been reported due to cylinders exploding on their own in the last three years and the current year. However, cases have been reported where LPG cylinder got engulfed in fire caused by other sources or reasons and subsequently burst due to extreme external heat generated by fire.