The inquiry committee will be headed by a Joint Secretary in the Oil Ministry. The committee will have officials of Oil Industry Safety Directorate, NDMA and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) as its members.

GAIL and ONGC have been kept out of the inquiry committee.

"I have briefed Prime Minister on the situation... Right now the focus is on relief, rehabilitation and rescue. I am leaving for the accident site along with Petroleum Secretary (Saurabh Chandra), GAIL Chairman (B C Tripathi) and ONGC Chairman (D K Sarraf)," Pradhan said.
The inquiry committee has been asked to submit its report in a time bound manner, he added.

"The gas pipeline has been shut. Fire has been controlled. This is a very serious situation and I have ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident," Pradhan told reporters here.

Pradhan for setting up statutory safety body for oil and gas industry

Pradhan also expressed shock at the lack of a statutory body for formulating safety measures for the oil and gas industry.

"When I came to this Ministry, I was shocked to learn that there is no statutory authority for safety and security. This is a concern. We need to seriously look at a statutory body for the oil and gas sector," Pradhan said here.

The Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), under the Petroleum Ministry, carries out safety audits of oil and gas installations, besides formulating and standardizing procedures and guidelines for design, operation and maintenance.

However, the body lacks statutory authority.

READ MORE: 15 killed, over dozen injured in GAIL pipeline fire

The then Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy had in August 2012 suggested giving statutory powers to OISD but the proposal has not materialised so far.

The new government, he said, would work towards giving statutory powers to OISD, which currently is only a recommendatory body.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had in 1986 constituted the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) to enhance safety in the industry.

There are hazards on account of inherent risks associated with the oil and gas industry such as extreme physical conditions in addition to potential fire and explosion from accidental release of flammable hydrocarbons.

Reddy had proposed transferring the work of Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) to OISD. At present, PESO comes under the Ministry of Commerce but has high synergy with the oil and gas sector.

Major Oil and Gas plant tragedies

•    On June 12, six people were killed and 36 others got injured after a gas leak at steel maker SAIL's plant in Chhattisgarh.

•    In August last year, a fire at Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd's (HPCL) Vizag refinery in Andhra Pradesh claimed the lives of 30 persons.

•    A dozen people were killed in a fire at Indian Oil Corp's (IOC) Jaipur oil depot on December 29, 2009.

•    In 2005, 24 persons lost their lives when a giant platform of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) in Mumbai caught fire following a supply vessel colliding with it.


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