Sitting on ticking time bomb

While demand for liquefied petroleum (LP) gas is growing rapidly, fatal incidents similar to that in Narayanganj near the capital may happen any time in rural areas of Nilphamari where the highly flammable gas is being sold at every nook and cranny.

Hardware, grocery or even betel leaf stores, in small towns or villages, in Nilphamari are now carrying LP gas cylinders, without obtaining any licence from appropriate authorities.

The canisters filled with the highly combustible material are being stacked up at the storefront, usually next to a busy road, as the sellers find it the best way to attract customers.

The soaring demand and absence of monitoring and enforcement of applicable laws are driving everyone to try to cash in on the situation in the district, said concerned citizens.

Despite a recent fire incident triggered by a gas cylinder in Neyamatpur area of Saidpur town, there has been no visible improvement in the enforcement or monitoring of LP gas cylinder sales in the district, they alleged.

According to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Rules, 2004, a seller has to store gas cylinders away from any source of heat or fire including sunlight and away from the reach of smokers, said Aminul Islam, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence in Nilphamari.

No dealer or distributor can sell LPG cylinders without a licence, which the Department of Explosives issues upon receiving due clearance from the office of the deputy commissioner (DC) and various departments including the fire service and the Department of Environment, he added.

But violating the rule, many municipalities and union parishads are also issuing the licence to sellers, he added.

Poran Mia (not his real name), is a plumbing and sanitary ware seller who has stacks of LPG cylinders in front of his store at a busy market in Dimla upazila.

Asked whether he has any licence to sell LPG cylinders, he said he was unaware of any such requirement.

At another market in Domar upazila, an LPG seller requesting anonymity said he has always known that the licence is mandatory only for sellers who sell more than ten cylinders at any given time.

Locals said if LPG bottling companies were strict about ensuring their selected dealers or distributors obtain necessary licensing, the situation would be safer for all. 

Contacted, Nilphamari DC Hafizur Rahman Chowdhury said LPG bottling companies must follow the rule while selecting their dealers or distributors. 

He also said that he would call the LPG bottling companies in a meeting to make them aware of the requirement. "If we get a specific complaint regarding any rules violation by any quarter, we will take action instantly."

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