GUWAHATI, Aug 1 � The Assam Government has blamed the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for the kerosene explosions in different parts of the State, particularly in the districts of Dhubri and Bongaigaon. Meanwhile, the volume of kerosene allotted to the State is only around half the requirement, which resulted in black marketing of the item.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Dr Nazrul Islam, said that the IOC is to be blamed for the recent incidents of explosions of kerosene and the State Government has decided to file a criminal case against the oil company. He said that according to information available with the Government, seven persons have lost their lives and more than 40 others received injuries in kerosene explosions.
The Minister said that the Forensic Test Laboratory reports clearly proved that the IOC is totally responsible for the unfortunate incidents. He said that the Food and Civil Supplies Department collected kerosene samples from different parts of the State for a thorough test in the Forensic Science Laboratory. He said that from the reports of the tests, it was found that one consignment of kerosene supplied to the districts of Dhubri and Bongaigaon on June 19 was of inferior quality and exploded when brought near heat. The IOC supplied kerosene to the depots from where the item was lifted by the agents and hawkers.
Immediately after receiving the report from the laboratory, the Government decided to register a criminal case against the IOC. On the other hand, the concerned Deputy Commissioners have already registered 35 cases and the Food and Civil Supplies Department has asked the Home Department to ensure that the cases are properly dealt with. The Government has also ordered a probe by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Assam Police into the incidents of kerosene explosions.
Dr Islam said that the Government has given exgratia payment of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in kerosene explosions, while those hospitalized have been given Rs 25,000 each. Those suffering major burn injuries have been given Rs 10,000 and those with minor injuries were given Rs 2,500. However, he admitted that only compensations are not adequate and those responsible for the incidents must be brought to book.
The Minister said that the Deputy Commissioners of all the districts have been directed to go for test check of the quality of kerosene before supplying the same to the consumers.
Meanwhile, the Minister admitted that the availability of kerosene is much lower than the demand. The Centre is allotting only around 21,500 MT of kerosene to Assam against the demand of around 42,000 MT and the shortage led to black marketing. He pointed out that though an all-party delegation of the State Assembly went to New Delhi to request the Centre to increase the allotment, nothing has so far been done in this regard. Because of the fact that PDS kerosene is a highly subsidized item, the Centre informed Assam that it would not be possible to increase the allotment. The cost of production of per liter of kerosene is Rs 40 and the item is supplied through the PDS at the rate of Rs 13 per liter.