Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Another accident hits ONGC in Tripura due to safety norm violation

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New Delhi: In an accident involving a 100-tonne oil rig of state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Tripura, one person has been seriously injured and another has sustained minor injuries, sources said. They have also claimed that the accident happened because there was a violation of safety procedures and the authorities refused to pay heed to red flags raised by employees before the incident happened.

A video that shows the aftermath of accident

A video accessed by PSU Watch shows an ONGC HH oil rig turned on its side after having plunged into a lunga (low-lying land) and a group of men clad in ONGC’s orange uniforms trying to save the people caught inside the trailer

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According to sources, the accident took place on October 27. Efforts to confirm the news from the ONGC management were made, but no response was received. The story will be updated when ONGC makes an official comment.

What do we know so far?

An ONGC employee in the know of the matter said, “The accident happened on October 27 when the rig was being transported from Rokhia to Agartala dome area. It plunged into the lunga because of two reasons. Firstly, the road was narrow. Secondly, the HH rig’s auto brake system and pick-up were not functioning and the trailer, on which it was mounted, was also due for servicing.” The employee also claimed that rigs purchased in the 1990s are being used for daily operations when the maximum life span of a rig is around 15 years.

‘ONGC driver had refused to drive the rig to its destination’

According to sources, “The ONGC driver had refused to drive the rig because both the road condition and the rig condition was not good. The rig needed servicing and repair.” Thereafter, the in-charge arranged a driver on hire, the source quoted above added. “This is in total violation of the standard operating procedures and the result is in front of us,” the source said.

‘Two people injured’

The source alleged that two people have been injured in the incident. “An ONGC electrician has sustained minor injuries in the incident. And the other person who is seriously injured is the driver. He has injuries in his leg, hand and head and is fighting for his life in the ICU,” the person said.

Accident at Rajahmundry, claim sources

On the same day on which the Uran fire incident was reported, one of the sources claimed that another accident took place at Narsapur yard at ONGC’s Rajahmundry facility, in which a crane slinger, employed with ONGC as a contractual worker, was seriously injured and had to get his legs amputated because a casing fell on him. The management is yet to comment on the incident.

Employees have flagged safety issues

Sources have, however, claimed that accidents are happening one after the other because safety norms are being violated. Separately, a look at the website of the Association of Scientific & Technical Officers (ASTO) of ONGC shows that officials have time and again flagged issues related to safety. In two letters dated May 3 and May 28, ASTO had requested the management to discuss the suggestions made by a committee of the association on improving safety practices at ONGC, in view of the various major and minor incidents reported in the past two years. The last letter addressed to ONGC CMD Shashi Shanker dates back to September 5, two days after the fire incident at ONGC’s Uran plant. While pointing out the frequency of accidents since January 2018 and the recommendations made by the ASTO committee report, the letter rued that despite efforts, there had been no movement by the management on safety issues raised by the association.

The report on safety brought out by the association in December 2018 showed that there were nine major accidents at ONGC by the time the report came out. In March this year, a fire incident was reported at Aakash-IV rig in which six contract workers had succumbed to burn injuries. And later, a fire broke out at Uran plant in September in which four people were killed and three were injured.

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