DIBRUGARH, Dec 13 � In a far reaching move to discourage oil pipeline sabotage acts, the Lok Sabha strongly today passed an amendment to the Oil Pipelines Act to make acts of terrorism to destroy oil and gas pipelines in the country punishable by a maximum of death sentence. The Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Amendment Bill, 2010, passed by the Lok Sabha today, provides for a minimum of ten years� rigorous imprisonment for acts of terrorism.
The punishment �may extend to imprisonment for life or death� in case the act of sabotage is dangerous and is likely to cause death of any other person, the amendment Bill stated. Prior to the amendment, the Act provided for jail term of one to three years for acts of sabotage and pilferage.
�The Bill aims to make provisions for sufficient deterrence to criminals from committing the offence of pilferage or sabotage,� an official statement said. Replying to the debate on the amendment Bill, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh said the existing sections of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act 1962 do not contain adequate provisions to prevent the incidents.
Acts of sabotage to any crude oil, petroleum product and natural gas would be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine. Pilferage of petroleum products from pipelines and damage to infrastructure would attract a punishment of rigorous imprisonment of not less than three years and may extend up to 10 years for the second and subsequent offence.
The act provides that whoever wilfully removes, displaces, damages or destroys any pipeline, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
The minister, replying to the debate, accepted that petroleum products are hazardous and emphasised that organised gangs carry out sabotage or pilferage on pipelines, and that the nuisance has to be tackled head-on.