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What needs to be done in a LPG blast incident?

gas cylinderWe recently covered two blog posts on the important topic of LPG safety and security. We got many encouraging comments on how the posts have made many of our readers aware of something so common yet unheard. To give our consumers an end-to-end perspective on this topic, we are covering in this post a last but important point of what needs to be done in the eventuality of a cylinder blast?

As you would have read, LPG Gas Cylinders are governed under the legal ambit, as laid by the Gas Cylinders Rules, 1981 being made under the provisions of Section 18 of the Indian Explosives Act, 1884. In such a case, if there is a LPG blast happening at one’s premise, the consumer can report the incident by logging on to the website:

http://peso.gov.in/Accident_Report.aspx

They can also lodge the report by sending an express telegram followed by a detailed letter stating the occurrence to: Chief Controller of Explosives, Block A, CGO Complex, Fifth Floor, Seminary Hills, Nagpur – 440 006; and the Officer-in-Charge at the nearest police station.Premium Legal Support

The above step will give a consumer a sound footing to sue the concerned insurer, the LPG company as well as distributor in the Consumer Court, and get an appropriate Award of Compensation in lieu of their sustained loss. Remember, Consumer Courts are fully empowered to grant compensation in LPG cylinder blast cases causing loss or casualty if it’s established that LPG cylinder blast is caused due to it being defective.

Case Studies

We state two cases where consumers sued the LPG companies on account of them circulating defective LPG cylinders, and how they were awarded justice by the Consumer Courts.

Case 1: Mrs. Madhuri Govilkar and others Vs M/S Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and others

On a fateful day in August 1995, a 47-year-old Mr. Suresh Kumar Govilkar got up make tea for himself and his wife. Since the in use cylinder was empty, he replaced it with a refilled cylinder he received through the dealer, Pelicon Gas Agency. No sooner did he lit the stove, a major fire engulfed Mr. Govilkar. As a result he was admitted to a hospital, where he breathed his last – (Mrs Madhuri Govilkar and others Vs M/S Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and others, Original Petition No 289 of 1996). Mrs. Govilkar sued the LPG company, Hindustan Petroleum and the dealer Pelicon Gas Agency for gross negligence and carelessness.

The Honourable, Justice M.B.Shah, President and Mrs Rajyalakshmi Rao, Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission observed that  once the defect is established, the manufacturer is liable and it does not require any further consideration . They therefore held that both the dealer and the oil company were jointly liable to pay a compensation of Rs. Ten Lakhs Eight Thousand, along with interest at the rate of 9 % per annum, and costs amounting to Rs 5000.

Premium Legal SupportThe insurer National Insurance Company also came under fire for its ‘negative attitude’. Referring to the advice sent to the dealer (when informed of the accident and the claim) not to make any admission of compensation without the insurance company’s prior consent, the Commission said this attitude  displayed a typical negative approach on the part of the insurance company . “Such type of negative defense increases the litigation in this country. In any case, such defense on the part of National Insurance Company is totally unjustifiable,” the Commission said. You can read more about this case study here.

Case 2: Mr. K U Nachappa vs Shanthi Gas Agency

Another case study involving a LPG blast is of Mr. K.U.Nachappa, Bangalore. Mr. Nachappa  purchased an HP cylinder from Shanthi Gas Agency, at Bangalore in October 2010, but it was not working. On October 16, 2010, the company sent a technician to identify and rectify the problem.

While the technician was doing its diagnosis, Mr. Nachappa was standing next to him, and suddenly the cylinder burst inflicting burns on both. Mr. Nachappa suffered burns on his face, hands and legs, and had to be treated. His kitchen got badly damaged too.

Alleging that the accident was due to a manufacturing defect in the cylinder and the technician’s inefficiency, Mr. Nachappa sought Rs 1.18 lakh compensation by filling a Consumer Case in the Consumer Court, Bangalore. The Consumer Court, Bangalore while taking note of the photographs provided by Nachappa ruled that the explosion was  because of a defective gas cylinder, and termed it deficiency in service on part of the company and the agency and further observed that an LPG manufacturing company is liable to compensate a cylinder blast victim, even if it has taken steps to fix the defect. 

The Consumer Court, Bangalore passed its Order on 2nd February’ 2012 granting thereby a compensation of Rs 1.17 lakh with 10% per annum interest to Mr. Nachappa. The Bench also directed the company and the agency to pay Rs. 2000 for litigation cost, and 10% interest on the entire amount from the date of the incident. The Court also said that ‘the complainant not only suffered physical injury, but also mental shock and agony. He is definitely entitled to the compensation for all his sufferings.’ You can read more about the case here.

Our View

Premium Legal SupportIt pains us immensely to see that such a basic necessity of life is being handled so carelessly by LPG companies and dealers, who are absolutely ignorant about consumer safety. There is such minimum awareness about LPG safety being passed by either the company or dealer to consumers when they are taking the delivery of LPG cylinders. Whatever is, is mostly out of TV ads or posters inside dealer premises.

In such a scenario, it is up to us consumers to stay alert and cautious about our safety, and make our family members, friends, colleagues, coworkers aware of LPG hazards. At Power to Consumer, we have taken a small step to make you aware of all the aspects of LPG safety. It is up to you to make others aware. We are compiling all the three posts below. Share the links within your social circles. And help us in our objective of powering the consumer.

  1.  Are you Aware of Your LPG Insurance Policy?– http://www.powertoconsumer.in/blog/2014/03/13/lpg-insurance-policy/
  2. Have you Checked Your Cylinder for its Expiry Date?– http://www.powertoconsumer.in/blog/2014/02/27/have-you-checked-your-cylinder-for-its-expiry-date/
  3. What Needs to be Done in a LPG Blast Incident?– http://www.powertoconsumer.in/blog/2014/11/25/what-needs-to-be-done-in-a-lpg-blast-incident/

Photo Copyright: Satish Krishnamurthy via Flickr CC

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