Consumers at risk as regulator fails to take action
KATHMANDU, Jan 5: As many as 15 bottlers of Liquefied Petroleum (LP) gas are yet to acquire the Nepal Standard (NS) certification, although the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) directed these bottlers to comply with the safety norms some three years ago.
These bottlers are only left emboldened as the regulatory body itself is in confusion regarding the course of action it should take against these gas companies not abiding by the government’s safety standards.
Publishing a notice in Nepal Gazette on November 14, 2016, the government had directed all domestic gas companies to obtain the certification from the government within three months. According to the NBSM, out of 55 gas companies, around one-fourth are still reluctant to abide by the guideline of the government body.
In the three years’ time, the NBSM has not taken any action against the companies flouting the rule, besides seeking clarifications from them. “We are writing letters to five firms seeking their clarifications,” said Bishwa Babu Pudasaini, director-general of the NBSM.
Due to the apathy shown by the government authorities concerned for years, consumers are being victims while using the fragile gas cylinders in terms of their safety.
In September, two persons were injured when an LP gas cylinder exploded in a house near Pokhara Industrial Area in Pokhara Metropolitan City-10, Kaski district. Earlier in March, four others were killed in an explosion of cooking gas cylinder at Chaku Hydropower Project site in Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchowk district.
Two years ago, Birgunj’s Super Gas Industry was gutted in fire claiming the lives of three people. The accident was blamed on the lapses in implementing the safety measures by the company.
Gas bottlers need to meet security and infrastructural standards to acquire the NS certification. NBSM gives the NS 533 certification to bottling plants after inspecting the safety, security and technical aspects in the processes of receiving the LP gas, filling, handling and storage and delivery of the gas cylinders, cross-checking their weight and compulsorily using plastic cap to seal the valve. This means the standard qualifies the whole procedure starting from gas import to delivery to consumers.
According to the NBSM, it has directed bottling plants to install at least advanced equipment that is used for compact valve testing and hydraulic testing. “These two testing mechanisms ensure safety of LPG cylinders to a larger extent,” said Pudasaini. Gas bottlers have been complaining of a surge in the costs if they started abiding by the gas certification standards.
Bottlers must submit their plant registration document and ‘Quality Manual’ to the bureau for NS certification. Quality Manual is a documented description of the processes of reception, bottling, and delivery of the LP gas by the bottlers. However, a number of gas companies are flouting the rule, according to NBSM officials.