Experts say examining the expiry date and leaks of cylinders and valves is a must before using the LPG, to avoid such accidents
As the consumption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) increases gradually in the country, so do the accidents caused by gas cylinder blasts, posing a serious and growing risk to the users.
In the last 15 days of January, at least seven people were killed and more than 100 injured in such countrywide gas cylinder blasts, reports Bangla Tribune, adding that several hundred such accidents take place every year.
The lack of effective measures is behind the blasts leading to the casualties, experts said.
LPG consumption in the country has witnessed a whopping four-fold growth over the past three years, with households, commercial entities, and vehicles increasingly relying on the fuel.
According to the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, as many as 953 fire incidents were caused by gas cylinders, killing 20 people and leaving 321 others injured in 2018.
The situation in 2017 was even worse since 82 people were killed and 1,309 others injured in 872 gas cylinder-related fires and explosions that year.
Consumers, the experts feared, will have to be careful before using the cylinders, or else they may face such accidents and even die from those.
Examining the expiry date and leaks of cylinders and valves is a must before using the LPG, to avoid such accidents as the two factors are mostly responsible for the blasts, they said.
Experts also added that although gas marketing companies check the bottles at regular intervals, consumers will have to examine the valves themselves since the devices remain at their homes.
Despite it being mandated that the old valves should be replaced by new ones every two years, LPG users hardly do so.
The consumers use the same valve for years, knowing little that holes develop on the device causing gas emission from the cylinders.
At one stage, gas leaked from the cylinder-- through the valve-- pile up inside a locked kitchen, posing a massive risk of fire or blast.
Mass awareness campaigns highlighting the factors can help save lives and properties, said the experts, including some from the Energy and Mineral Resources Division.
Energy expert Prof Ijaz Hossain said the quality and expiry date of cylinders cannot be compromised.
"I'm sure no government agency is working to do that, which should have been a top priority. Any government agency must be engaged with the job strictly," he suggested.
The gas marketing companies have to be held accountable and made to follow certain quality standards to ensure safe use of bottled LPG, he said, before adding, consumers' awareness also matters greatly.
"If any company fails to ensure safety, it must face music," said Ijaz, also a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
When asked why the cylinder blasts do not stop, Abul Kalam Azad, chief inspector at the Explosives Directorate under the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said they were trying their best to address the problem.
"We formed several probe bodies over the blasts, and wrote to the ministry concerned and the LPG marketing companies in line with recommendations of the investigators-- but in vain," he said.
He, nevertheless, blamed slack awareness, substandard devices and mindless sale of LPG for the accidents causing the fatalities.
"We've recently sent letters to deputy commissioners, and superintendents of police to take measures in this regard," he concluded.