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Centre amends rules for explosive manufacturing to enhance safety, ease of doing business

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 21, 2021

More efficient movement of cryogenic compressed gases to address demand at short notice

Taking lessons from the ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut last year that caused massive destruction, India has amended its ammonium nitrate and calcium carbide rules, incorporating higher safety measures in storage and disposal while promoting ease of doing business.

The Department for Promotion of Investments and Internal Trade (DPIIT), has also worked to bring about amendments in static and mobile pressure vessels rules to allow more efficient movement of cryogenic compressed gases, especially to address demands at short notice similar to what the country faced during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amending the rules

The DPIIT has worked with the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), an autonomous body under it, to bring about draft amendments in rules, in the areas of explosives and gas cylinders.

“The explosion in Beirut related to ammonium nitrate acted as a trigger for us. We amended the rules to increase safety, so that mishaps don’t happen,” said Sumita Dawra, Additional Secretary, DPIIT at a media briefing on Tuesday.

The input of the industry was also taken to improve ease of doing business in all five identified areas.

Three amendments, including ones on rules related to ammonium nitrate, calcium carbide and static and mobile pressure vessels have recently been notified by PESO. The draft amendments on gas cylinder and explosives rules are under discussion and will be notified soon, Dawra added.

The amendments in ammonium nitrate rules include provision for adequate firefighting facilities in storage and handling areas, improvement of flooring, provision for auction of serviceable seized ammonium nitrate and disposal if not fit for use and specification of safety distance from port area.

Improving convenience

To promote ease of doing business, the transfer of ammonium nitrate from one location to another of the same licensee has been permitted now. The time for disposal (including enquiry, decision to grant or refuse) of the application for seeking ‘No Objection Certificate’ from District Authority or Director General of Mine Safety has been reduced from six months to three months. The capacity for storage of ammonium nitrate in small storehouse has also been enhanced.

Rules for static and mobile pressure vessels have been amended to introduce the concept of ‘third-party inspecting agency’ to carry out the work related to certification, testing, inspection and safety audit of the licensed premises.

To address the urgent need of oxygen in sufficient quantity at short notice from surplus areas to deficit areas in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, permission was accorded to ISO containers to move liquid oxygen for domestic transport on September 23 2020.

Provisions have now been incorporated in the rules to allow transportation of cryogenic compressed gases such as oxygen, argon, nitrogen, LNG etc. through ISO containers in domestic areas.

“This will help to transport liquid oxygen from surplus areas to deficit areas and promote multimodal transportation (by road, rail and waterways) of these gases and reduce the transportation cost, as well as time,” Dawra said

Published on September 21, 2021

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