Association asks oil companies to consider its demand for taking the Bangalore-Hosur route to reach LPG supplies to Tamil Nadu

In the wake of the accident involving a Namakkal-based LPG tanker in Kannur district of Kerala, which killed 19 persons, the association of LPG bullet tanker operators has warned that it will be forced to stop operations to the neighbouring State if steps are not taken by the government there to improve road conditions for the ensuring safe transport of hazardous products.

The tanker had rammed a road divider before exploding.

“For more than seven years we made repeated representations to the Kerala Government on the unsafe conditions of roads in Kerala, but they turned a deaf ear,” president of the southern Region Bulk LPG Tank Operators Association M. Ponnambalam told The Hindu here on Monday. The poor roads made it unsafe for transporting hazardous products such as LPG.

Second incident

The Kannur incident was the second one involving bulk LPG tankers in Kerala. The previous one was at Karunagapally near Kollam on December 31, 2009, which claimed 15 lives and badly injured many others.

“After that incident, we had stated in a representation to oil companies that we were not interested in operating the tankers through that State,” he recalled.

“The oil companies asked us not to alienate a State and promised to look at ways to ensure the safe transportation of LPG. We then decided to transport bulk LPG through Kerala”, Mr. Ponnambalam said.

The trucks involved in both the accidents were from Namakkal as this district accounts for more than 95 per cent of the bulk LPG transportation vehicles in south India.

Additional expenditure

Secretary N.R. Karthik said that out of the 250 bulk LPG tankers which are filled at Mangalore, more than 150 take the roads of Kerala, for distribution in that State and also Tamil Nadu.

The association had asked for permission to use the Bangalore-Hosur route to reach various parts of Tamil Nadu, but the companies claimed that they would incur additional expenditure of about Rs. 7,000 per truck as the vehicles had to cover an additional 150 km to reach Tiruchi through Bangalore. “It is high time they considered our representation and made LPG transportation safer,” Mr. Karthik said.

Driver’s effort lauded

The association lauded the efforts of truck driver Kannaiyan (35) of Naduvalur near Gengavalli in Salem district to minimise loss of lives. It said that LPG leaked for about half-an-hour after the truck hit the divider at Chala before the tanker exploded. Kannaiyan stopped vehicles about three km away from the accident spot. He woke up people residing in the area and asked them to rush to safer places.

Drivers undergo training course to reduce the loss of lives during accidents and this helped Kannaiyan save many lives, Mr. Ponnambalam said.