BHUBANESWAR: Police investigation into the sensational Raj Bhawan Filling Centre explosion has found gross criminal negligence on the part of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) authorities as well as the contractor it had engaged which led to the blast claiming two lives on October 7.
The Commissionerate Police examined witnesses, documents, CCTV footage, electronic records as well as took help from Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation for the investigation. Of many violations, the probe found that IOCL’s award of tender was faulty as it was given to a firm which was not competent to carry out inspection and maintenance at the LPG unit under the Static and Mobile Pressure Vessels (SMPV) Rules. M/s Surya Shakti Vessels was the representative contractor for IOCL.
The Commissionerate Police report said, about 12 points of the standard operating procedure were violated. “As it was 10 years mandatory pressure testing, entire responsibility of tendering, monitoring the work and ensuring safety norms were followed as per SOP was with entrusted with IOCL,” said the report. During investigation, the police also found out that some part of the work was subcontracted to other firms by Surya Shakti by keeping IOCL in the loop but such engagements were not placed on record and incompetent staff was hired.
‘They were even not issued gate passes but were allowed to work at the fuel station,’ was one of the most critical flouts. Moreover, the investigation found that authorised IOCL official was not present on October 6 and 7 when the maintenance work of the second vessel was underway. The same vessel blasted on October 7 sending two workers into smithereens at the site.
“Though as per the rules IOCL’s authorised official should have remained present on the site, he was supervising the work over calls and WhatsApp,” the report said. The pace of the maintenance work of the two vessels also raised serious posers. The first vessel work was completed in five days but the second took just two days. It was the second one which exploded.
“IOCL did not appoint a third party observer/evaluator as per the rules. As per the guidelines, refilling of petrol, diesel and LPG should have also been stopped during the work but the fuel station continued to provide the services,” the police’s probe revealed. According to PESO, both underground cylinders should have been tested before LPG was filled into them. LPG was filled in one cylinder before completion of work in the adjacent one. The cylinder which exploded was also not emptied properly due to lack of technical staff and supervision.