An expert with wide experience in Cathodic protection engineering says despite world’s best protocols in place, the pipeline at Nagaram in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh exploded claiming several lives due to error of judgement on the part of officials of Gas Authority of India Ltd.

An engineering graduate from Andhra University, K.B. Swaroop, CEO of Hyderabad-based Corrosion Matters, an ISO certified company, told The Hindu that the leak at the place where the pipeline blasted might have been reported a month or two ago.

It was typical profit-making public sector attitude of the officials, which stopped them from taking recourse to shutdown of the hydrocarbon evacuation asset to undertake repairs. “Timely intervention could have prevented the incident,” he said.

GAIL, according to him, employs retired subedars for patrolling and report to the authorities whenever a leakage, corrosion and any abnormality is noticed. T.D. Williamson, world’s renowned consultant, was engaged by GAIL through global bidding for the pipeline’s health integrity checks and to find out whether the pipeline has the requisite of design conditions, Mr. Swaroop said.

GAIL, which commissioned the pipeline 13 years ago, had installed infrared optical imaging moving cameras last year to take the pipeline profile. “Hence, sheer negligence is the cause of such a big accident,” he alleged.

Mr. Swaroop said there should have been proper prioritisation on taking up repair works. The accident could have been averted if the pipeline was shutdown or repair at the place the incident occurred was taken 15 days before. Periodical sensitisation programme for officials dealing with such sensitive operations was a must, he stated.

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