A two-year-old girl and a 65-year-old woman have died in separate incidents of kerosene oil lamps exploding in two villages in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district. Both families had obtained the kerosene oil from the Public Distribution System (PDS) and authorities are investigating if it was adulterated.
Besides the two deaths, there have been several instances of people suffering injuries due to oil lamps exploding, said residents of the two villages and some adjoining villages.
The first incident occurred on February 9 when a 65-year-old woman lit the oil lamp at her home in Saroni Khurd village and it exploded. The woman suffered 50 per cent burns. She died on February 15.
The second incident took place on February 14 in Amanari Kala village, when a two-year-old girl and her 25-year-old mother suffered injuries when an oil lamp at their home exploded. The girl died the next morning.
The issue came to light when the Joint Secretary of Food and Civil Supplies Department met family members of the deceased and they narrated the incidents.
The district administration has issued a notice to all PDS dealers. “In view of the two incident related to Kerosene oil, it is stated that all 37 dealers — who got the oil from a tanker of Army Trading Company amounting to 11, 774 litres — should immediately ask all such beneficiaries, who they distributed the oil, to not use the kerosene oil. In addition, the dealers should keep the oil separately if not used… This should be done today to avoid any incident,” said the notice.
Hazaribagh DC Aditya Kumar Anand said, “We have collected samples of oil and sent them to IOCL (Indian Oil Corporation Limited), whose kerosene oil was distributed through for PDS, and forensics to ascertain if the oil was adulterated and at what level.”
Kedar Ram, father of the two-year-old, worked as a cook in Mumbai and could not return to his workplace after coming home during the lockdown.
“I had taken two daughters to my in-laws’ and the youngest was with my wife. There was a power outage. My wife lit a kerosene lamp and threw the match stick, but my daughter picked it up and went near the lamp and there was an explosion.”
He said they were rushed to the Sadar hospital and his daughter, who was in a critical condition, had to be taken to Rajendra Institute of Medical Studies in Ranchi.
“We were not treated well. A nurse applied some lotions, but my daughter needed urgent attention. There was no doctor. Next morning doctors came, but there was no sense of urgency. I wanted to take her to a private facility and got an NOC from the hospital, but she had died by then,” he said.
Ranjit Singh, relative of the 65-year-old woman, said she succumbed after being treated for seven days at Sadar hospital. “The family is poor, the sons work as labourers, but are currently out of work…We have collected some money for last rites. I hope the government helps us with some money.”