When Barak Valley was also rattled by kerosene oil explosion

SILCHAR, July 27: The kerosene oil explosion which rocked Dhubri district culminating in the death of three persons and injury to 36, 13 of them critically is not a new phenomenon. In May 1988, the Barak Valley districts of Cachar and Karimganj were also hit by kerosene oil explosion. Though there was no casualty, around 100 persons, mostly house wives and female members received minor to fatal burn injuries. The explosion continued for a week and the areas hit were Ramkrishna Nagar, Patharkandi, Boalipar, Bhanga,Katigorah and Kalain. Hailakandi was not created as a district.
The incidents were said to have takenplace when match sticks were ignited to activate stoves, hurricanes and oil lamps. Unofficial estimate then said around 100 persons were injured. Padmalochan Bhuiya, Deputy Commissioner of Karimganj, took prompt action to contain the unprecedented situation by warning people over public address system in affected areas not to use kerosene oil. Oil samples were collected to test the degree of inflammability. The Deputy Commissioner was alarmed to see at Ramkrishna Nagar the high degree of inflammability. Similar nature of oil was found at Mullaganj of the district.
The Assam Oil Division ascertained the inflammability of oil. It was attributed to the mixture of petrol with kerosene. It was alleged that this mixture took place at Ramnagar depot of Indian Oil and Assam Oil near this town due to inept handling and lack of alertness of supervisory staff inthe operation of pipelines which supply petrol, diesel and kerosene oil from rail wagons to reserve tanks andthen delivering them to the tankers ofthe dealers.
The Consumers' Protection Council of Karimganj took up the matter with Consumers' Protection Council and Consumers' Education and Research Centre of Ahmedabad. The National Commission on Consumers' Grievanceswas also moved. The people affected were highly peeved at the silence andindifferent attitude of the oil authorities concerned, perhaps to wash their hands of any responsibility. The oil officials pleadedcomplete ignorance. But the Consumers' Protection Council ultimately had the last laugh as it could realize compensation from the oil companies for the victims of kerosene oil explosion. Minister of Food and Civil Supply Dr Nazrul Islam has blamed the IOC and demanded adequate compensation for the dead and injured, besides initiating cases against the oil companies through Consumers' Forum of the district. (SentinelAssam)

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