More rig deaths likely unless ONGC takes action

Vol 20, PW 9 (26 Jan 17) People & Policy

ONGC is under fire for ignoring basic safety and standard operating procedures leading to a sharp rise in the number of fatal accidents.

Most recently a worker laying seismic cables for ONGC in Madhya Pradesh's Damoh district was killed on January 20 by an explosion. A day earlier on January 19 assistant rigman Akash Prajapati, 24, was killed when hit by a heavy 'tong' after the 'jerk line' on a Cardwell 50-V rig snapped.

This incident took place at 8.40am during ONGC workover operations at oil well CW/5/NK/229 on the outskirts of Chalasan village in the Mehsana area of north Gujarat - the third such accident in Gujarat in less than two years. On April 18, 2015, two ONGC workers were charred to death and 10 others severely burned in a fire from a blow-out at well Olpad#31 in Ankleshwar.

And just last April, 27-year-old electrician Tasbur Hussain Malek was crushed to death when part of the rig hoisting system broke loose and fell at ONGC's Nada oilfield, also in Ankleshwar. "You can blame machinery for these accidents," says a former ONGC official.

"But from my long experience I can say there is always a human error behind every such incident." ONGC chairman DK Sarraf is taking the matter seriously and has sent out two teams to investigate Prajapati's death on January 20.

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