ONGC fireball at Jotana gas pipeline burns three

Vol 23, PW 2 (14 Nov 19) People & Policy

Yet again fire has injured three people at ONGC's Mehsana asset leading to more questions about whether it takes the safety of local villagers and workers seriously.

On October 30, ONGC received a call about a hissing sound from a gas pipeline connecting well Jotana#148 in the 39.5-sq km JOTANA ML field to a Gas Gathering Station at the nearby Balol field, approximately 9-km away. A contract worker was sent to investigate.

At around 8.30pm, the contract worker, the driver of a Bolero jeep and the farmer who owns the land in Mitha village were looking for the latest leak when they were engulfed by flames. ONGC officers from the Palavasna office, approximately 9-km away, rushed to the site as did fire-fighting teams.

"By 9pm the injured were taken to the Lions General Hospital in Mehsana," reports an ONGC source. But villager Ranchhodbhai Rabari, in his mid 60s, suffered more than 80% burns and was moved to Apollo Hospital in Ahmedabad where he is in a critical condition.

"He couldn't run because he is too old," adds a source. The two others, including Bolero driver Dashrathbhai Turi, escaped with relatively minor injuries.

Sadly ONGC does not seem to have learned from a similar incident on May 13 when farmer Rameshbhai Joitabhai Chaudhari and his helper Manubhai Kantibhai Raval were burnt by a fireball, most likely ignited when they switched on their battery-operated torch near a gas leak.