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Monday, January 17, 2022

Gas leaks probe gets high priority

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday appointed an eight-member Expert Committee to look into the reasons for the increasing number of LP gas cylinder related explosions and fires and recommend immediate solutions. The Committee is headed by Moratuwa University Chemical and Process Engineering Department Head Professor Shantha Walpalage and consists of Senior DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon, Moratuwa University’s Prof. Ajith de Alwis, Sri Jayewardenepura University’s Prof. W. B. W. Jayathilake, Prof. Pradeep Jayaweera, Sri Lanka Inventors’ Commission Commissioner Prof. Narayan Sirimuthu, Industrial Technology Institute Additional Director General Dr. Sudarshana Somasiri and Sri Lanka Standards Institute Senior Deputy Director Sujeewa Mahagama.

The President has directed the Committee to submit the report within two weeks.

Consumer Protection State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna told Parliament yesterday (30) that the government is on the side of the consumer and will never take the side of the gas companies regarding the recent incidents relating to gas leaks and fires.

Alagiyawanna further said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided to appoint a committee to look into the incidents related to domestic gas cylinders.

Alagiyawanna also said, “We shall not take the explanation given by these gas companies as the final word. We need to inquire into the reasons they changed the composition of the gas cylinder. “We need to understand what sort of a profit these companies could make by changing the composition. We all understand that they have introduced these changes aiming a profit. We will comparatively analyze the gas composition of other countries and ours also.”

Alagiyawanna also noted that the government is not on the side of the any company but on the side of the consumers. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also made inquiries in this regard and awaiting a report, he added.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya Polonnaruwa district MP Kings Nelson told the House that a woman from the Polonnaruwa District had died when a gas cylinder exploded, however, police had confirmed through a video that she had committed suicide, Alagiyawanna said.

Alagiyawanna made these observations responding to a question raised by the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa under Standing Order 27 (2).

Alagiyawanna also said, “The former Prime Minister made a good proposal in this regard. I thank him for that. He asked the Committee on Public Enterprises to be summoned for discussions regarding this matter. That’s an effective suggestion. There definitely is a problem regarding these cases. It needs to be addressed. We are working on that. The President also spoke to me about this today. He too will convene a committee to inquire relevant government institutions in this regard. He expects a report that includes short- and medium-term proposals. Several discussions are still taking place today as well. The companies that import gas cylinder accessories have been called for a meeting too.”

“The 18 litre gas cylinders are not available in the market now. I say this with responsibility. We took action against that issue. That gazette notification regarding this matter was implemented properly,” Alagiyawanna added.

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