It was a tragic end of a lively family in the capital last Friday. An explosion caused by gas leak in their flat in Uttara model town in the city burnt almost the entire family of five members. Two, including a year old baby, died within hours of the incident while two others succumbed to death the next day. According to reports, about 27 people were affected by similar incidents in the city during the last six months. Many of them died in the hospitals due to severe burn injuries. Gas leak explosions have been quite frequent and recurring incidents clearly prove that no serious attempts are made to seal the gaps.
According to reports, the unfortunate incident at the flat in Uttara last Friday happened due to a leakage in the gas pipeline which was well reported to the building owner who must have ignored the complaint. His ignorance could have reasons as most of the times such complaints to the concerned authority bring in more hassles rather than any solution. Or, it could be otherwise that the building owner was totally negligent in solving the problem which is also a usual trend. Though an investigation has reportedly been pressed into action, quite as a ritual, it is unknown if the reason for the accident would ever be known.
In fact, the consumers or more specifically the users of such dangerous utilities like gas, should also take up certain responsibility. In this particular case in Uttara or in many other similar cases, it is the carelessness of the users that resulted into such accidents. It is commonly known that the gas pipeline and the stoves need periodic maintenance. In most cases, there is no care about such maintenance, whether by the users or by the concerned authorities and as a result, hazards keep on growing. If there were regular inspections and maintenance, such hazards could easily be detected and actions could be taken to plug the holes.
In our country, there is widespread ignorance about safety. Knowledge and respect for safety rules are almost absent everywhere. With millions of people using the gas service, the concerned authorities should have given safety instructions to the users. It is also known that people are hardly aware about the risks and hazards because they never have any advice from the service providers.
Added to all these is the lack of proper risk mitigation measures. If there were fire extinguishers in or near the spot of fire occurrence, the lives could have been saved. We notice these days only some new buildings in the city have proper installation of such risk mitigation measures. However, the big question is whether the users are aware about these and their uses.
In the backdrop of such repeated accidents happening due to gas explosions in residential complexes, it is imperative to raise mass awareness about the risks, how to handle the hazards and so forth. At the same time, the concerned authorities in coordination with Police and Fire Brigade, should step into a massive inspection of the gas connections. Otherwise, tragic stories like that of the recent incident in Uttara will keep on piling up. It is time to act on safety at home, seriously.
(The writer is a CSR consultant & broadcaster. [email protected])