Titas doesn’t want to take responsibility of blasts from leakages

Debris inside the Baitus Salat Jam-e-Masjid in Paschim Talla area in Narayanganj on 5 September 2020
Prothom Alo file photo

Narayanganj residents are worried due to over 200 incidents of blasts and fire from accumulated gas due to pipeline leakages of Titas Gas in Narayanganj in three years. They alleged the blasts and fire and loss of lives were the results of the negligence of the authorities of the gas company. But the Titas Gas authorities rejected the allegations and blamed the people’s lack of awareness for the “accidents”.

The latest incident of blast and ensuing fire from gas pipeline leakage was recorded at the fourth floor of a five-storey building in Araihazar upazila in the district on Friday night. The blast was so severe that windows of the floor were shattered

Four people including a man and his wife sustained burn injuries in the fire. Three of them including the couple already succumbed to their injuries while under treatment at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The expired couple were supervisors at an apparel factory.

Earlier, four people sustained burn injuries at a blast and a fire from accumulated gas due to pipeline leakage at a flat in Kashipur of Narayanganj Sadar upazila on 12 August this year. A wall of the flat collapsed and fell on an adjacent corrugated iron sheet roofed house.

Fifteen people were injured in an explosion at an auto-rickshaw showroom in Kashipur of the Sadar upazila on 29 July. A wall of the showroom at the ground floor of a five-storey building collapsed in the blast.

The injured were admitted to Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery where two persons died under treatment.

Narayanganj district administration constituted a seven-member committee with additional district magistrate Mousumi Hira Bain as convener to investigate the incident.

The committee in its investigation found the incident was initiated off the leakage in the pipeline of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company. The committee submitted a report holding Titas Gas’ negligence and supervision responsible for the incidents and put forth 16 recommendations.

However, Titas’ Narayanganj office deputy managing director Mamunar Rashid claimed the incidents have been taking place due to lack of awareness of the consumers.

Speaking to Prothom Alo he said Titas won’t bear the responsibility of any accidents that originated from the lack of awareness of any consumer. Titas is responsible for the pipeline up to the riser and the customer is responsible for the pipeline inside his house. It is not possible for the gas to accumulate inside the house of a consumer even if it emits from the leakage of Tias’ pipeline.

It is not possible to curb such accidents if the customers do not grow awareness, he concluded.

According to Narayanganj fire service, as many as 203 incidents of explosions took place from gas pipeline leakages in the district between 1 July in 2020 and 30 July this year. Thirty three people died in the blasts and ensuing fire. However, the fire service department does not have any proper documentation on how many people sustained burn injuries in the explosions. As a result, the department lacks the figures on deaths while under treatment owing to injuries in such incidents. As a result it can be said safely that the actual number of casualties is much higher than the information provided to the media.

Thirty four people alone were killed and many others injured from an explosion due to the leakage of Titas Gas pipeline under the Talla Baitus Salat Jame Masjid in Narayanganj town on 4 September in 2020.

An analysis of information provided by the Narayanganj fire service reveals 32 incidents of blasts took place in the district between 7 July and 26 December in 2020. The number of fire incidents from gas pipelines between 1 January and 31 December in 2021 was 100 while the number of such incidents was 29 from 9 January to 30 December in 2022. So far 31 such incidents from gas pipelines were recorded between 16 January and 30 July this year.

Speaking about this to Prothom Alo, Narayanganj fire service office’s deputy assistant director Fakhar Uddin Ahmed said such incidents could occur because of leakage in old pipelines, lack of awareness in use of gas, gas accumulation from leakages in cylinder pipe and the knob of the stove. More such incidents will take place if the old pipelines are not replaced, illegal connections are severed and make people aware of it.

Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery’s resident medical surgeon Tariqul Islam said the number of fire incidents from leakage in gas pipelines and cylinders is much higher in Narayanganj than other parts of the country. Many patients with burn injuries from Narayanganj are coming to the institute for treatment here, he added.

He also told Prothom Alo that most of the patients sustained burn injuries from gas lines come with burned trachea. In most cases they do not survive.

Supervision of Titas Gas authorities, city corporation and other concerned authorities should increase, he insisted.

* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza