Chennai

Bowser accident brings safety issues to the fore

The tanker that met with an accident in Cuddalore on Tuesday.

The tanker that met with an accident in Cuddalore on Tuesday.  

An accident involving a fuel bowser (tanker) that took place in Cuddalore on Tuesday has once again brought into focus concerns regarding the safety of bulk supply.

Sources said the tanker overturned on a main road while trying to avoid hitting a cyclist. The diesel that got spilt on the road was cleaned up by fire service personnel using foam. “Luckily, there was no fire or death due to the accident. There have been similar incidents elsewhere in the country as well,” said K. P. Murali, president, Tamil Petroleum Dealers’ Association.

Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers general secretary K. Sureshkumar said, “We are very worried about the safety of the public and users.”

“The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation is only a licensing authority. The responsibility of regulation lies with district authorities, who already have enough on their plate. Fuel outlets only have licences to sell petrol and diesel at their locations. But these bowsers tank up at the bunks and carry them without following any safety measures. At times, one can see them unloading fuel by the roadside,” he said. “In an effort to legalise the bowsers the government launched the door delivery system. But even for that there is a need for a proper regulation mechanism," he added.

Estimates show that there are around 800-1,000 bowsers of varying capacities in the State. They do not have the requisite licences, and hence, are considered illegal. “They violate all safety norms,” he added. In an effort to legalise the bowsers, PESO recently directed oil majors to ensure that bowsers get licences and conform to safety norms. The oil companies, in turn, had written to dealers asking them to take the necessary steps.

Meanwhile, tenders have been invited from startups wanting to get into the business of door delivery of diesel to large volume users. Dealers were critical of the scheme and said this would hit at the very root of the retail outlet network, which thrives due to the advantage of location. "We invest close to ₹2 crore for setting up a retail outlet. However, these startups need to spend only ₹30 lakh for a bowser and would also be eating into our customer base," said a dealer.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 2:09:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/bowser-accident-brings-safety-issues-to-the-fore/article32280827.ece

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