Bullet tanker lorry carrying LPG overturns, injuring seven

The incident on Sunday evening, of overturning of a bullet tanker lorry carrying liquefied petroleum gas at Chudala near Taliparamba, was a throwback to the tragedy at Chala here on August 27, 2012. Just that the accident on Sunday was not as serious.

While the Chala accident claimed 20 lives and left several injured, the one at Chudala injured seven people including the tanker lorry driver, passengers, a driver of the autorikshaw and a pedestrian. They were all admitted to a hospital, and the residents in the nearby evacuated following leakage from the tanker.

The tragedy on Sunday, a grim reminder that not enough lessons have been learnt from the Chala mistake and much is needed to be done to avert similar tragedies, occurred on the National Highway at Chudala between Taliparamba and Pariyaram.

The local residents on either side of the highway had been panic-stricken since 5.30 p.m. on February 24 when the tanker lorry of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) overturned while negotiating a curve and hit an autorickshaw.

The tanker lorry was on its way from Mangalore to Kozhikode when the mishap occurred. The situation was brought under control on Monday morning when the emergency responsive vehicle (ERV) from the LPG import facility of the Hindustan Petrol Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) in Mangalore reached the spot early in the morning and started the operation of emptying the LPG from the overturned tanker to another tanker lorry.

Traffic diverted

The ERV team, led by HPCL Executive Operations Officer Ajith Lakra, was handling the situation, officials said, adding the process would be completed by evening. The road traffic in the route was diverted since Sunday evening.

The latest LPG tanker incident leaves much to be desired about the safety measures to be adopted by the petroleum companies while transporting the LPG. In the wake of the tragedy at Chala, the government insisted that the petroleum companies and the tanker lorry operators should comply with the safety provisions to avert more tragedies.

The norm that LPG tanker lorries entering the State should have safety measures, including the stipulation under the Motor Vehicle Act that every such tanker lorry should have a spare driver and a helper, is often not complied with. The tanker lorry that met with the accident at Chudala also had no spare driver or helper.

When contacted, a senior official at the HPCL import facility in Mangalore told The Hindu that tanker lorries carrying the LPG were defying the safety rules. Even the public sector petroleum companies were not taking steps to ensure these precautions, he said.

“When we insist that we cannot load the tankers unless they abide by the condition that the vehicles should have a spare driver and a helper each, even the public sector petroleum companies approach a private LPG loading facility in Mangalore,” he said, adding the officials insisting the safety measures were thus left under pressure.

Despite the government’s assurance that the safety provisions would be enforced strictly, the gas tanker lorries with a driver each continued to pass through the State’s check-post on the Mangalore-Kasaragod border.

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