On February 19, 2019, three people died while four people were injured in an explosion which occurred while transferring gas from one LPG cylinder to another
Several automobile LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) filling stations in Matiranga upazila of Khagrachhari use portable cooking gas cylinders to refill gas-run vehicles in violation of all safety norms, which according to concerned locals is clearly a recipe for disaster.
Locals alleged that the upazila administration was well aware of the chance of a fatal accident at any of these gas stations in any given time but was seemingly reluctant to take any action in this regard.
On a visit to Rasulpur and Chowdhurypara in Matiranga upazila, this correspondent found several LPG filling stations transferring fuel from cooking gas cylinders to three-wheelers by portable pumps designed to transfer liquefied gas to vehicles.
These unregulated gas stations neither had necessary licenses to operate nor did they abide by the required infrastructure model provided by the Department of Explosives.
Md Zafar of Tabalchhari market said: “Every night, hundreds of gas-run three-wheelers collect fuel from the two illegal refill stations located at Tabalchhari market. The illegal transactions happen right under the nose of law enforcement as there is a police outpost right next to the market.”
Matiranga Municipality Mayor Shamsul Haque said: “Although I have been repeatedly addressing the issue in the upazila law and order meetings, still the illegal LPG filling stations in four spots in Matiranga upazila continue their operations freely, endangering lives of nearby residents.”
Confirming that it was mandatory for a filling station to obtain separate licenses from the Department of Explosives and Fire Service and Civil Defence before operating legally, Ashikur Rahman, an officer of the Matiranga Fire Service and Civil Defence, said the fire service did not issue such clearances to the illegal auto filling stations in question.
Asaduzzaman Bakul, owner of an illegal gas pump in Chowdhurypara and a member of Tabalchhari union council, said he had filed an application for the license needed to operate his LPG refill pump. “However, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the process has been delayed. Meanwhile, at the request of local drivers and vehicle owners, we are providing services at the gas station with newly purchased equipment.”
Deputy Commissioner Pratap Chandra Biswas said marketing of LPG cylinders without permission is a prohibited and punishable offence. “If anyone violates the law, legal action will be taken.”
On February 19, 2019, three people died while four people were injured in an explosion which occurred while transferring gas from one LPG cylinder to another in a warehouse in Khabangpuria of Khagrachhari Sadar.