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Rajbandh depot fire: IOC rules out disruption in supply

Our Bureau


An IOC official walks past a tank at the Rajbandh terminal in Burdwan district, about 140 km from Kolkata on Friday after one of the tanks caught fire due to lightning on Thursday. — Parth Sanyal

Kolkata , June 4

INDIAN Oil Corporation (IOC) today ruled out any dislocation in the supply of petrol in the areas served by its Rajbandh (Durgapur) depot where one of the storage tanks has been ravaged by fire following a lightning strike during yesterday's squally weather.

"Supplies are being arranged from other oil companies' depots located nearby in addition to supplies being stepped up from the IOC's installations in Mourigram, Budge Budge and Haldia," said a spokesman for IOC's marketing division here. Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation have storage depots located close to the IOC's depot at Rajbandh.

The Rajbandh depot of IOC caters to the requirements of petrol in areas such as Durgapur, Asansol, Dhanbad extending up to Raxaul, close to the border with Nepal in north Bihar. "It provides the bridging facility to Dhanbad and Raxaul," the spokesman said. In all, there are 20 tanks in IOC's Rajbandh depot with a total capacity of 88,000 kl. Only two of these tanks store petrol totalling 11,000 kl. The storage tank, which caught fire, had the capacity of 7,000 kl. However, at the time of fire, it contained about 3500 kl.

While every effort was being made to retrieve some of the product from the affected tank, the IOC authorities were not sure how much could be retrieved at all. A part of the petrol stock in the affected tank had to be burnt in a controlled manner to prevent any further disaster. Nearly two dozens of fire fighting engines had been pressed into operation to control the fire. "While the situation now appears to be under control, we keep our fingers crossed till the fire has been totally put out," said the spokesman. "All we can say is that the risk has been reduced." The problem was that the petroleum fire could not be extinguished by water, he said.

The experts from the Indian Army, Indian Air Force were also assisting the IOC officials in their efforts to extinguish the fire. The local administration and the authorities of several public sector undertakings in and around Durgapur such Durgapur Steel, Alloy Steels were also extending all possible help.

The extent of the damage caused by the fire will be known only after the fire has been totally extinguished. There can be two types of loss, namely, the loss of the product and the destruction of the storage tank. The value of the product loss is estimated at Rs 10 to 12 crore. Meanwhile, a five-member fact-finding committee under Mr K.K. Gupta, General Manager in charge of safety and environment protection, has been constituted by IOC to assess the loss and make necessary recommendations.

A spokesman for IOC in Mumbai, while talking to Business Line over the phone, indicated that the authorities might have to work out a contingency plan to cope with any such situation in future. IOC has a total of 169 terminals and depots throughput the country. "What has happened at Rajbandh is a natural disaster over which no body can have any control but it can happen anywhere anytime and the proposed plan therefore will aim at reducing the loss as far as possible," he said, making it clear that no outside help would be needed for the purpose. "IOC has the country's best talents to handle any such situation," he observed.

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