The Department of Explosives (DE) under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has come up with a laudable public service almost at no cost. It has issued a warning in advance to remind the people of the need to double check the different types of gas cylinders they use at home, in cars, hospitals and elsewhere; compressors, boilers and air conditioners with the approach of the winter. It has not even forgotten to mention the gas cylinders used for inflating balloons in the open and the caution required before working in septic tanks. Gas stored in a compressed state in any container or place or supplied to different points maintaining pressure or force is naturally inclined to burst up, only more so if it starts leaking and accidentally comes in contact with fire. A number of such grave accidents have claimed lives -- even of all the members of a family. In a Lalmatia flat such an explosion killed a veteran leftist politician and his son a few years back.
What is alarming is that people do not take the known precautions that can help prevent such fatal accidents. In most cases lax attitudes and negligence are responsible for the tragedies now happening almost regularly. Monitoring and maintenance of home appliances have never been a plus point of this nation. So, the early warning issued by the DE is highly appreciated as this has precisely catalogued the reasons behind such explosion and fire accidents. For example, the DE informs that the explosion at Tampaco Garments Factory in Gazipur, in which 20 lives perished, happened because the boiler was date expired. Similarly, people run the risk of similar tragedies for using date-barred compressors, LPG cylinders used for cooking and in automobiles. Oxygen and acetylene (ethylene) -- not helium which a poor balloon seller cannot afford -- gas cylinders used for patients and filling up gas balloons respectively pose similar dangers if those are of low quality and date expired.
All these vital canisters and cylinders apart, human habits invite tragedies. In the winter, usually windows and doors of kitchens and other rooms are kept closed. The first thing one need is to open the doors and windows and leave the room for 10-15 minutes so that gas, if accumulated there, can pass out. Only then should the gas burner be lighted. Similarly, septic tanks have to be kept opened for about half an hour or better still if table fans are used to drive out the accumulated gas.
These are some of the common practices people must follow. But when complaints against faulty connection or leakage go unheard and unaddressed ---as happened in the case of Narayanganj mosque explosion ---the responsibility lies with the utility services concerned. This should not happen. But in this country, even the public become a party to official corruption by bribing field-level employees of various utility services for illegal connections. Allegations have it that the bribe money lines the pockets of higher officials as well. Unless the corruption culture can be rooted out once and for all, risks of such tragedies will continue to loom large.