The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has urged the Centre to warn retailers against using mobile wallets and point of sale devices at petrol pumps. But the warning has not been communicated adequately. Why?
“We have told the petroleum ministry that the use of mobile wallets and swipe machines for debit cards should be avoided while a vehicle is being fuelled and a hazardous area around the fuel dispensing area must be clearly and prominently marked out,” a senior industry ministry official told the media.
“There would be no objection for the use of point of sale unit/mobile e-wallet beyond the hazardous area around the petroleum dispenser in petroleum retail outlets licensed under the Petroleum Rules, 2002,” Joint Chief Controller of Explosives N.T. Shahu wrote to the oil and industry ministries on December 19. But the Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan is busy promoting cashless transactions at fuel pumps.
What are these hazardous zones in petrol pumps?
As per the norms regarding electrical appliances’ use around fuel pumps, there are two hazardous zones.
Zone 1, which is most hazardous covers the area 1.2 metres vertically above the base of the fuel pump and 45 centimetres away horizontally in all directions.
Zone 2 includes the area between 45 cms and six metres of the cabinet enclosing the fuel pump, extending 45 cms vertically above the floor level.
Government pushes digital payments at cost of public safety?
The National Disaster Management Authority’s previous vice-chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy also wrote to Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha asking for urgent steps to ensure that these conditions laid out by PESO are meticulously followed to prevent any untoward incidents. This is the main issue in the letter:
“I request you to immediately direct the Petroleum & Natural Gas ministry and chief secretaries of all States to take necessary steps to comply with the advisory from PESO in a time bound manner. This is extremely important from the point of view of public safety consequent to their being pushed to the use of digital payment platforms post demonetisation.”
Our petrol stations are extremely over-crowded and manned by youngsters not adequately trained. We have not even heard about these hazardous zones. Even one spark generated via gadgets can trigger fire across the pump, thereby becoming a major safety hazard. It is imperative that payment must be located much away from the fuelling area. With the government keeping mum about this warning and advertising “cashless payments” everywhere, are we sitting on an active volcano ready to erupt?