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Oil tanker accident: Cops quiz owner of transport firm

The tanker was transporting Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a butane derivative used as a fuel component.

Mumbai | Updated: March 25, 2014 9:50:14 pm
The accident on March 22 claimed 10 lives and left five persons injured. The tanker belonged to Randhawa Transport Service, based in Vadodara and owned by Ranjit Singh Randhawa. The accident on March 22 claimed 10 lives and left five persons injured. The tanker belonged to Randhawa Transport Service, based in Vadodara and owned by Ranjit Singh Randhawa.

The Kasa police, probing an accident on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway on March 22 in which a tanker exploded after turning turtle, on Monday questioned the owner of the logistics company that owned the tanker. The accident claimed ten lives and left five persons injured. The tanker belonged to Randhawa Transport Service, based in Vadodara and owned by Ranjit Singh Randhawa.

The tanker was transporting Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a butane derivative used as a fuel component in fuel for gasoline engines.

The MTBE was sold by Reliance Chemicals to a company known as Vinati Organics, said a Reliance spokesperson.

The tanker, carrying over 35,000 litres of the flammable chemical, was on its way to Ratnagiri when the driver lost control over the vehicle near Charoti toll naka in Dahanu. The driver was posthumously booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and the police are probing whether there was any negligence involved in the filling or transport of the chemical.

“We have questioned Randhawa and he will give us details of the client the butane was being transported for. The paperwork of the transaction was destroyed when the tanker exploded. We have asked for copies,” said assistant police inspector Ravindra Magar.

“I was given a contract by Vinati Organics to transport the chemical. My tanker picked it up from Hajira port in Gujarat and was taking it to the company’s plant in Lote Parshuram, Ratnagiri when the accident occurred,” Randhawa told Newsline. “I knew the driver, Bahadur Singh, well and there had never been a complaint against him in the past. He had been working for me for the past seven-eight months.” Vinati Organics could not be reached for comment.

“The cargo was sold by Reliance Chemicals to Vinati Organics. Our liability in the matter is zero,” said a Reliance spokesperson.

“We are probing whether there was any negligence on part of the transporter or the company. We will decide on further action after our inquiries are complete,” Magar said. Meanwhile, seven of the ten deceased are yet to be identified. The bodies would be sent to Kalina forensic laboratory Tuesday for DNA tests, police said.

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