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Half of petrol pumps do not meet safety norms: NBSM

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 22, 2017-About half of the gasoline stations operating across the country do not meet government safety norms, the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) said. Lack of clear policy has resulted in poor inspection of these refilling stations which pose a public safety hazard. 

Three government bodies—Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), Department of Supply Management and NBSM—have been assigned to check irregularities in the petroleum business. However, none of these government entities has been found to be scrutinizing gasoline stations rigorously.

NBSM Director General Bishwo Babu Pudasaini said about 50 percent of petrol pumps may not be maintaining the required standards and safety measures. According to him, the NBSM has been charged with only checking the measurement system. 

“There is no clear government policy about what aspects of the gasoline business should be checked,” said Pudasaini. He added that a separate government body should be set up to ensure that safety norms are being followed.

There are 2,500 petrol pumps operating across the country. In January 2016, the government had instructed all petrol pumps in the country to upgrade their standards by amending the Distribution Bylaw of Petroleum Products. 

As per the amendments to the bylaw, existing fuel pumps across the country will have to meet minimum standards like providing women, men and disabled-friendly toilets, drinking water, open space and adequate parking. They also have to maintain a proper distribution and sales office and fulfil safety standards within four months of the new bylaw coming into effect.

The bylaw states that the government will monitor all fuel stations after the deadline. It has mandated NOC to cut the supply of fuel by 50 percent to any gasoline station that does not meet the minimum standard. The station will be given one month’s time to upgrade its facilities. 

Refilling stations that do not meet the set standards even by the second deadline will have the supply reduced by 75 percent, and NOC will scrap the distribution licence of the fuel pump that does not adopt government standards by the sixth month.

Apart from enforcing the bylaw, the state enterprise has remained silent over conducting regular inspection of refilling stations. Although many petrol pumps have failed to meet the standard, NOC has not taken any action against any of them so far. 

However, NOC Spokesperson Birendra Goit has claimed that most petrol pumps have fulfilled the standards contained in the regulation. “The main problem is negligence of the operators while handling the fuel business.” Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, also claimed that petrol pumps had fulfilled the requirements except the minimum space. 

“However, there is a need to provide training to gasoline station employees on safety norms and fire fighting,” said Pradhan, adding that the association was holding talks with NOC to provide training. 

 

Panel to probe fire at gas plant

The Ministry of Supplies on Thursday formed a probe committee to investigate the incident at Super Gas Udhyog in Sukhachaina, Birgunj. The gas bottling plant was gutted by a fire on Wednesday which claimed the lives of two firefighters and seriously injured two others. 

The probe committee led by Department of Supply Management Director General Kumar Dahal includes representatives of the Ministry of Supplies, Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology and NOC. 

NOC Spokesperson Birendra Goit said the panel would investigate the cause of the fire and the safety measures at the gas bottling plant. About 90 percent of the gas bottling plants do not meet safety norms. The government only took notice after the fire at Super Gas Udhyog.

Published: 22-12-2017 08:49

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