Piped gas supply to be hit in Mumbai

Friday, 21 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: The supply of piped gas will be badly affected in Mumbai with the city's civic body banning the laying of fresh pipes by the Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL), the city's only supplier.

According to Mumbai's municipal corporation officials, MGL has been asked not to dig up the city's roads and lay pipes after a series of fires caused by gas leaks.

"The decision has been taken in the interest of public safety," Municipal Commissioner Karun Shrivastava told reporters here Friday.

Civic officials say the gas utility will have to stop laying fresh pipes and will have to fill up trenches dug by its contractors in order to comply with the civic body's order.

The order will result in a sharp reduction in availability of piped natural gas to homes in the city. MGL officials say they are awaiting further instructions from the civic body.

Company officials say they will inform customers of the position in the next few days.

In February last year a gas leak and a blaze in Andheri caused three buildings to be hurriedly evacuated. The fire was extinguished only after seven hours.

An inquiry revealed that the fire erupted after a contractor employed by a telephone company inadvertently damaged the gas lines while digging the roads.

Disaster management experts say Mumbai's civic body has not prepared maps of underground pipelines, because of which utility companies lay lines in a crisscross manner and dig up each other's lines during repairs and maintenance work.

Following February's blaze the Maharashtra government has ordered maps to be prepared of all underground pipes in Mumbai in keeping with international standards.

The data should also be put in the public domain, the government has ordered.

Following the inquiry, authorities have asked MGL to carry out periodic drills after coordinating with the corporation's road department, the fire brigade and MGL.

Other measures suggested include joint surveillance of the gas network. All the three agencies have been asked to sort out their problems before the monsoons.

MGL, a joint venture between the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and British Gas, supplies piped natural gas to residences.

Till the service began a few years ago, all residents of Mumbai got their cooking gas supply from state-owned oil companies in the form of liquefied petroleum gas packed in steel cylinders.
Source: IANS
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