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Was the Jaipur fire sabotage?

09 November 2009

Despite previous reports claiming that the Jaipur fire was a result of poor safety standards or lack of maintenance, more recent evidence has arisen which suggests the fire may be a result of sabotage and arson.The fire has finally died out at the IOC depot in Jaipur, India on the morning of the 7th November, 10 days after the inferno claimed 12 lives.

Was the Jaipur fire sabotage?
Was the Jaipur fire sabotage?

Now the fire has been extinguished investigators have been able to take a closer look to determine the cause of the accident.

It has been suggested that officials of both the IOC as well as the adjoining depot of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) have been involved in fuel pilferage from the depot. The fire could have been an attempt by those involved, to cover up the scam and hide the obvious fuel shortage at the depot.

Police have found a large number of IOC documents approximately 5km away. Were they thrown away deliberately or had they blown away in the smoke from the fire?

Furthermore, investigations at the scene to determine the cause of the blaze found two valves opened instead of only one needed to open or close the oil pipeline. The police noticed that the valves in the IOC containers which were connected to the pipeline were not operated according to the standard operating procedure.

In additional support of the sabotage theory, it has been noticed that although the first sign of leakage occurred at 5pm on the 29th October, the leak was not reported, despite this being mandatory. By around 6.30pm the leak had spread emitting a vapour cloud which eventually ignited. On-duty officials failed to handle the situation promptly.

Following the fire it raises the question, does India have sufficient safeguards to ensure complete safety from accidents or even hostile attacks of installations such as petroleum storage tanks, LPG depots and such like? The government of India has ordered a safety audit of all oil and gas installations across the country as a result of the fire at the Indian Oil Corp (IOC) in Jaipur. All oil and gas installations in the country will carry out the self safety audits by December 31st. After the special safety audit, all oil and gas installations will have their safety audits done on a quarterly basis. All major as well as minor incidents in any such installation/setups in the country including that of private companies will be reported to Oil Industry Safety Directorate.

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