Surat: The ONGC blast in a pipeline in Surat was a disaster waiting to happen and an activist had warned of its dangers a long time ago.
The ONGC pipeline had a design life of 25 years but it was in use for the last decade with intermittent periods when the company had bothered not to get a safety certificate.
As per an RTI filed by Sanjay Ezhava of Surat Airport Action committee, the pipeline which was laid in 1985 had a life span of 25 years. This means the company should have stopped using it post 2010.
As per the rules, an operator needs to follow certain guidelines and get a fitness certificate to ensure that the pipeline is fit to be used. But Ezhava said the company did not do anything to get the fitness certificate between 2010 and 2013.
Which means the pipeline was in use without a fitness certificate.
ONGC Blast: Co continued to operate without fitness certificate
On October 11, 2013, ONGC got a fitness certificate for five years from M/s. ABS Industrial Verification (India) Pvt. Ltd. This five year period came to an end on October 11, 2018.
After that, the company again had a gap when it operated the pipeline without a fitness certificate.
“This is something ONGC said in an RTI reply,” said Ezhava.
It should be noted that the pipeline that begins from its offshore base in Mumbai travels through close to the Surat airport premises and ends at Hazira.
Ezhava said when he had filed an RTI in 2018 the company had said it did not have a fitness certificate and was still in the process of getting one.
“You are not supposed to have even a day’s gap in getting such a certificate particularly when you are dealing in gas and oil. We don’t know whether they still have a fitness certificate but the company’s past performance (from 2010-2013 and 2018 onwards) shows it is very casual in its approach,” said Ezhava.
He had earlier written to all the top authorities including the various ministries to warn them of how the pipeline that passes close to the Surat airport and will be directly under the airport when it is expanded poses a genuine threat to the Surat airport.
His efforts did not elicit any response from the authorities. Ezhava had also moved the high court in the matter.
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