VISAKHAPATNAM: Was the explosion in the gas pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) at Nagaram village in East Godavari waiting to happen? The answer seems to be a firm yes, if the locals and experts are to be believed. In fact, many parts of East Godavari district, which has hundreds of oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the region, are on the verge of experiencing such mishaps and the repercussions could be far more severe, the experts warn.
Gas leakages are not a new phenomenon for the people living in and around Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin area in East and West Godavari districts. Various oil and gas companies, which run their operations in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin, have laid a large number of pipelines in East Godavari district for transportation of gas to various parts of the country.
Majority of these pipelines pass through the agricultural fields and some even through residential areas. ‘“Many pipelines are more than two decades old. Over the years, they have become rusty due to corrosion and have weakened, leading to repairs. However, they have never been replaced despite repeated pleas from the locals,’’ said an official of the agriculture department in East Godavari. He said that at least one gas leakage incident occurs every fortnight but the oil companies make only temporary repairs to solve the problem.
>> More Photos of the GAIL mishap
Retired professor G Krishna Rao from the Geology Department of Andhra University said that ruptures and pipeline breakages occur due to mechanical failure or defective pipes apart from corrosion. “Land subsidence (sinking) is another problem in the KG Basin where the pipeline loses its base support which was laid about 20 to 25 years back. At such places, the ground below the pipeline has to be grouted with soil or elevated with supports to restore horizontal alignment of the pipeline,’’ he said. Pipeline leakages have been reported increasingly during the last few years in the KG Basin area, he added.
Most of the gas leakages go unnoticed. Sources in a private oil company told Express that the public sector oil companies face shortage of inspection staff due to which the checks are not conducted on a regular basis. For the same reason, the oil companies are unable to detect any fuel thefts from the pipelines which pass through the agricultural fields.
The Nagaram villagers alleged that whenever they complain about the leakage, the GAIL or ONGC officials reach the spot too late, by which time the pipelines will be covered with mud by the locals to prevent any explosions. “The officials leave after taking some temporary precautions. Despite our repeated pleas, they are not replacing the old pipelines,” complained Anand, a villager of Nagaram.
He expressed anguish that the pipelines are located in residential areas and the officials of oil companies have, of late, not promptly been attending to the safety aspects. Similar complaints are being made from various other places whenever the gas leakages occur.
Though the smell of gas was felt in the Nagaram village late Thursday night, the officials allegedly did not look into the possibility of a leakage. The situation is so grave that eventhough some villagers smelled gas in the wee hours Friday, they could not differentiate and eyewitnesses said that for this same reason, the gas stove was lit by the tea stall owner. Finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu told reporters at Nagaram that the government will probe any lapses on the part of the officials and take precautions.
KCR Mourns Blast Victims
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao condoled the death of 15 people in gas leakage incident in East Godavari district on Friday. In a message, the chief minister expressed his sympathies for the bereaved families.
APATHY ENDANGERS LIFE
- Most pipelines are two decades old
- Faulty pipelines have never been replaced
- Public sector firms face shortage of inspection staff
- No concrete steps taken to arrest gas pilferage in fields
V Nageswara Rao (48), V Srirama Lakshmi (53), V Adinarayana (23), V Narasimha Murthi (22), T Satyanarayana (44), T Chinna Papa (3), Rudra Nagamani (45), G Kumari alias Anantha Lakshmi (60), G Kokila (34), G Sai Ganesh (4), G Sujatha (6), G Madhu (35), G Divya Teja (23), M Balaji (23)
The injured persons are undergoing treatment at various hospitals
Vandresa Madhusudhan (8), Vandresa Mohana Krishna (7), Mohammed Thaqvi (42), Kasi Chinna (19), Thatikayala Rajyalakshmi (25), Thatikayala Lakshmi Jyothsna (5), Rayudu Suryanarayana (20) and B Appala Narasamma (60) at Apollo Hospital, Kakinada Vanarasi Venkataratnam (46), Bonam Ratna Kumari (36) and Bonam Peddi Raju (40) at Trust Hospital, Kakinada Bonam Kalyan (18), Bonam Harshita (14), Bonam Shanti (12) and Rekhapalli Satyavati (50) at KIMS Hospital, Amalapuram