It was a Black Friday for the people of Nagaram, who woke up to death and devastation.
There was a gas leak in the GAIL pipeline on Thursday night and, when a tea stall owner lit a stove at 5.15 a.m., all hell broke loose.
Flames spread in a radius of one kilometre opposite the gas collection station of ONGC at the village, which is in the midst of the scenic Konaseema region.
Damage control absent
Abbas, a native of Nagaram village who has an eye-wear shop in the Gulf, was on a visit to his village when the GAIL pipeline burst.
“It’s shocking to note that neither ONGC nor GAIL officials have assumed any responsibility and there is no damage-control mechanism,” he lamented.
At least 15 lives were lost in the accident as the hapless villagers did not know what hit them.
Gas supply was cut off within 15 minutes by shutting the valve at Chinchinada bridge, which is 8 km from the Nagaram village.
The villagers complained that the GAIL authorities did not take proper precautionary measures and in the past also there were several incidents of gas leak in the area.
They alleged that two months ago there was a problem with the same pipeline and it was fixed temporarily.
The job was not properly done and gas leaked from the same point.
The pipeline burst with a huge explosion and many people rushed out of their houses in the vicinity, fearing a blow-out.
Some of them were engulfed by the flames and killed.
“The GCS and the refinery have become a curse to us and we are living in constant danger. They should be relocated. ONGC and GAIL are playing with our lives,” a resident of the area complained to the AP Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, and the Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan, who visited the village on Friday afternoon.