Four days before the Thursday/Friday night blast of the GAIL pipeline, gas was leaking from the place and local have reported the incident. But the “Chalta Hai” attitude of the officials resulted in temporary cover up of leak, not fixing the major problem that was a rust-ridden pipe leaking gas.
Now that the inevitable has happened, an eye-wash attempt is on with the GAIL (Gas Authority of India Limited) government offering an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the kin of those who died in the gas pipeline burst due to rust.
The local Konaseema residents were upset. Living on rich gas reserves is not giving them riches but taking away their lives and in any other country, it would have led to protests and environmental group taking up the protest course by now. But in India, lives are cheap and if they belong to rural people, far worse and cheaper.
Of the Rs 25 lakh compensation, GAIL would provide Rs 20 lakh, but couldn’t it fix the leaking pipe four days before when the residents reported ? Did any official face wrath for the negligence so far or not?
The leak was far wider and a tea staller, with whom PM Narendra Modi would have preferred to identify with in his earlier life, was killed when he lit the match to make tea. Those who were sitting there for tea vanished immediately.
The leaping flames from the pipeline swept through nearby houses in Nagaram. “Those responsible will not be spared. Whoever it may be, they will not be spared,” said CM Chandra Babu Naidu but GAIL is known for its negligence across the nation since its inception during Rajiv Gandhi’s term. To prove oil reserves was abundantly found, GAIL managers had poured petrol on the roads in the mid-1980s.
With that kind of record, GAIL is known for its exploitation of local villagers and every time such incident happens, compensation is announced to silence the survivors. The GAIL pipeline blast is no way different from the Bhopal gas tragedy that stuck the nation on December 6, 1982.
It is ironic that environmental groups are still silent over the GAIL exploitation of the Andhra people in Kaveri-Godavari gas basin.