Oil Co, insurer asked to pay Rs 10L for gas leakage death

A consumer forum here has asked Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, United India Insurance and a local gas distribution agency to pay Rs 10 lakh to a man for the death of his wife in a cooking gas leakage accident.

Thane: A consumer forum here has asked Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, United India Insurance and a local gas distribution agency to pay Rs 10 lakh to a man for the death of his wife in a cooking gas leakage accident.

Thane's Kalyan township resident Mangesh Anant Gawand stated in his complaint before the forum that his wife Poonam used to manage a 'masala grinding shop' in the locality.

On January 24, 2009, she felt a burning sensation in her nose after inhaling some spice particles. To freshen up, she went home in the evening. When she opened the house, there was no power and since it was dark, she lighted a matchstick to turn on a lamp.

However, as there was leakage from the gas cylinder, the moment she lit the matchstick, the cylinder caught fire and exploded and the entire house was gutted in the blaze.

Poonam suffered severe burns in the mishap and died in a hospital on January 29, 2009, Gawand told the forum.

Later, Gawand sought compensation from the oil marketing company, the insurance firm and Vijaya Krishna Gas distributing agency, but the three rejected his claim, following which he approached the consumer forum.

Thane District Consumer Redressel Forum (TDCRF) president Umesh Jhavalikar and member ND Kadam discussed arguments by counsel for the insurance company and BPCL, while the gas distributor did not advance any argument and hence, the matter was decided ex-parte against him.

The insurance company and BPCL, quoting a report of surveyor, stated that the claimant had used a non-certified gas connecting pipe to the LPG cylinder, which was also damaged by rats due to which the gas leaked in the house.

Therefore, by using a non-certified pipe, the complainant had violated the conditions laid down by the insurance company, it was argued.

Dismissing the arguments, TDCRF observed that usage of gas cylinder was in the premises as mentioned in the insurance policy and secondly, it was the duty of the petroleum company and the distributor to ensure that sub-standard and non-certified pipes were not used by customers.

Just rejecting the claim on technical grounds means deficiency in services and in this case, all the three are deficient in their services. Hence, they need to jointly and severally make the compensation of Rs 10 lakh, it stated.

Moreover, just by paying compensation the lost life cannot be brought back, which they should remember, the forum further said in its order passed last week. 

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