Varsha hails from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, about 40 km west of Delhi. Her family had received an LPG connection under the flagship programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. But the explosion of a cylinder at her home claimed the lives of her parents and two brothers. She, too, suffered 25 per cent burns.
The four members of Varsha’s family who were killed are her father Som Pal, 32, mother Munni, 30, and brothers six-year-old Ankit and four-year-old Kullu.
Two neighbours, Ankit Gupta, 38, and Shivam Diwan, 16, who had tried to help the family were also severely injured. Diwan is admitted to a hospital in Meerut. Gupta died at Safdarjang Hospital in New Delhi.
“Bahut dard ho raha hain, main un logon ke madat ke liya gaya tha (It’s hurting a lot. I had gone to help them),” he told Business Standard hours before his death. His wife is pregnant and he has five children.
Gupta’s brother Monu has claimed the authorities delivering the cylinders had made no effort to explain how these work. “The authorities did not tell us anything,” he said.
Varsha was released from the hospital as there was no one to take care of her. “The doctors warned us that as she severe burns, she might suffer an infection,” said Monu.
Now, the fate of Varsha and Gupta’s children hangs on the action taken by the authorities concerned to provide them succour.
Official sources told Business Standard a claim of Rs 25,000 as immediate relief had been sent to the company. More relief would be provided by ICICI Lombard, with which Indian Oil Corporation has a pan-India public liability insurance cover.
Banarsi, a relative of the family, has been given a cheque of Rs 25,000 by the distributor concerned.
“We are also trying to find out who from Ankit Gupta’s family can receive some funds immediately,” said the source
SHADOW ON UJJWALA YOJANA
Accidents around LPG cylinders provided to beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana have cast their shadow on the scheme
LAUNCH: MAY 1
Target: To provide LPG connections to 50 million women from BLP households
Achievement: 8 million connections provided till July 21
Beneficiaries not made aware of safety parameters
Pressure to meet steep PMUY targets
Beneficiaries provided training at the time of being given connection
Regular safety clinics organised
The Rs 8,000-crore PMUY was launched on May 1 this year, to provide 50 million free LPG connections to women of poor households.
The government pays oil marketing companies about Rs 1,600 for each connection given to a Below Poverty Line household. The scheme, spearheaded by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has already covered more than 7.8 million families in more than 15 states.
But, there are concerns about proper safety parameters being followed even as more people are provided access to the fuel.
“We are in favour of PMUY, but the government also should see that 90 per cent of the targeted households are economically backward and fail to meet the safety parameters required for installing an LPG connection,” said Pawan Soni, general secretary, All India LPG Distributors Federation.
He added, “The accident at Saharanpur happened because of lack of awareness. Now, the dealers are being held responsible.”
Soni said OMCs should launch awareness campaigns before going ahead with the programme.
When contacted, a senior police officer from Behat police station in Saharanpur told Business Standard that an FIR had been registered against the local Indane gas agency.
“The dealers are made victims in most of these cases. The PMUY consumers, who are using alternative fuel at present, have no knowledge regarding LPG. Hence, it is the duty of OMCs to educate them,” Soni said.
Distributors also claimed they were facing additional pressure to meet PMUY targets. Business Standard had access to a letter written from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited suspending all domestic LPG supplies to a gas agency in Moradabad because of PMUY bad figures.
The oil and petroleum ministry, however, said while providing new connections under PMUY, it was ensured that beneficiaries are properly educated about the safety norms. Besides, a PMUY safety-cum-insurance leaflet was also being given to all beneficiaries, in Hindi, for ready reference. Regular safety clinics were being organised by the distributors to educate the LPG consumers at large.
The ministry also said intensive safety campaigns were planned and implemented at a larger scale on a regular basis.
For the families of the deceased, however, problems persist for now. They were finding it difficult to even take the bodies back to their villages. Their relatives were struggling to hire even ambulances with.
Parveen Kumar, Ankit’s brother-in-law, no one from Indane or the government had offered them help.
Under the insurance cover for the scheme, about Rs 6 lakh would be given for death and Rs 2 lakh each for medical expenses and property damage.
“We are not aware about these things. If there is an insurance policy, we request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to speed up the process and secure Varsha’s future and Ankit’s children,” Praveen said.