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Don't borrow that gas cylinder
Rosy Kumar |
April 24, 2004 13:50 IST
There was a time when one had to wait for years to get a cooking gas connection. This led to the practice of borrowing gas cylinders from friends, neighbours and relatives or obtaining the same from delivery boys by paying extra money.
While things have certainly improved, such 'borrowing' continues to meet emergency needs. But are you aware that you run a grave risk if some mishap occurs when using a borrowed gas cylinder?
Maddali Natarajan Setty had a gas connection but the gas in his cylinder was exhausted and he needed one urgently. He borrowed a cylinder from Ms Suseelamma, the maternal aunt of his wife residing in Lakshmipuram, Nellore. Setty brought the cylinder to his residence at Atmakur.
On the morning of July 20, 1991 when he opened the seal of the cylinder and was about to connect it to the stove, the gas came out with tremendous force, travelled beyond Setty's house and exploded when it reached the stove in use on the verandah of the opposite house belonging to his brother.
The result was that Setty and family all received burn injuries, their house was completely gutted and his brother Rama Krishnaiah's house was also badly damaged.
Setty, his wife and children were admitted in a hospital in Atmakur and were given first aid. As his daughter had received 86 per cent burn injuries, she was shifted to Apollo Hospital, Chennai on the same day. However, she succumbed to her injuries.
Aggrieved by the tragic happenings caused by the faulty gas cylinder supplied by Indian Oil Corporation, Setty took up the matter with the company, claiming compensation.
However, no response was forthcoming. He accordingly filed a complaint before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad, claiming a sum of Rs 775,000 towards damages to his household articles, furniture, medical expenses incurred for his own treatment and that of his family members, and compensation for the death of his daughter.
His brother also filed a separate complaint claiming compensation of Rs 400,000 for the damage caused to his house.
On a notice issued to the Indian Oil Corporation, its area manager filed a reply saying that the two complainants were not IOC consumers and his company was not responsible for any mishap involving a gas cylinder which had not been supplied by it or by its authorised agents.
The complainants, on the other hand, submitted that their aunt Ms Suseelamma was a regular consumer of IOC and the very fact that she had lent it to them for use was tantamount to their being the beneficiary of the services rendered by the company.
The Andhra Pradesh State Commission examined the case in depth and by its order reported in May 2004 completely exonerated the Indian Oil Corporation.
In its judgement, the court referred to the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order, 1988. Clause 2(b) thereof defines a cylinder as a metal container for storing liquefied petroleum gas which shall conform to the prescribed Indian standards.
In Clause 3(2) it is stated in unambiguous terms that no person shall possess or use liquefied petroleum gas filled in cylinders or in bulk unless he has received supply thereof from a distributor or from an oil company.
Sub-clause (4) again expresses in unequivocal terms that no distributor shall supply liquefied petroleum gas filled in cylinders to any person other than a consumer possessing a valid authorisation from an oil company.
The court held that as per the above provisions, Natarajan Setty and Rama Krishnaiah did not possess valid authorisation for possession of the gas cylinder which was found to be defective. Accordingly, it dismissed both the complaints.
Consumers of cooking gas are well advised to avoid obtaining gas cylinders from unauthorised persons or delivery boys and also to not use cylinders borrowed from others, as they would be without legal redress in case of an unfortunate happening.
However, it's also true that the outdated Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Supply and Distribution) Regulations needs immediate modification.
If the cylinder belongs to an oil company it has to conform to the laid down Indian standards. Whether it is taken from an authorised supplier or someone else should not make any difference in fixing liability on the supplier and the manufacturer.