Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Friday announced the setting up of a high-level, five-member committee headed by M.B. Lal, former Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, to probe the cause of the fire at the Indian Oil Corporation fuel depot in the Sitapura Industrial Area near here and suggest safety measures. The fire, which started at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday, was raging in five of the 13 tanks.
Mr. Deora told journalists here that the fire tenders could not go anywhere near the burning tanks until the petrol and diesel stockpiled there went up in flames. “We don’t know how long will it take for the fire to extinguish,” he said.
The terminal gets its supplies from the IOC’s Mathura refinery through a pipeline and feeds a significant portion of the market in Rajasthan. The fire is stated to have caused the IOC a Rs. 300-crore loss.
It was officially confirmed that four deaths occurred and all the victims were stated to be IOC employees. Two persons died in the Sawai Man Singh Hospital and one succumbed to his injuries in the Fortis Hospital. A charred body lying near one of the burning tanks could not be removed, while six IOC employees were missing.
About 200 persons, including six in a serious condition, were admitted to the S.M.S. Hospital and other private medical centres in the city with burns and splinter injuries.
Mr. Deora announced an ex gratia of Rs. 10 lakh to the next of kin of each of those killed, Rs. 2 lakh each to those seriously injured and Rs.1 lakh each to those who sustained minor injuries. This would be in addition to the financial assistance announced by the State government.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot asked private hospitals in Jaipur to treat the injured free of cost and said the government would reimburse them.
He told journalists that there might be a few people still trapped in the inferno, but this would be confirmed only after the fire was extinguished.
Apart from the human casualties, the massive fire destroyed the property of more than 30 industrial units in the Sitapura Industrial Area.
7 centres opened
The Jaipur district administration has opened seven centres to shelter the people evacuated from nearby villages. About 400 guests staying at Chokhi Dhani, a traditional village resort adjacent to the depot, were also evacuated.
According to an official release here, the Petroleum Ministry has assured the State government that there will be no shortage of petroleum products following the fire. This will be ensured by working additional shifts and on Sundays.