News

Alagiyawanna invites critics to gas explosion meeting

  • Prez also appoints probe comm. to propose urgent solutions

BY Pamodi Waravita

An emergency meeting of the Consultative Committee on Trade will take place today (1 December) to discuss the ongoing incidents of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder-based explosions, with former Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena being invited to attend. This is to take place in a backdrop where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa too has appointed a separate committee yesterday (30 November) to investigate the same and propose urgent solutions.

Gunawardena being invited was announced by Co-operative Services, Marketing Development, and Consumer Protection State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna who spoke in Parliament yesterday, responding to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.

“Apart from the Trade Consultative Committee members, I invite all Opposition members to also participate in this meeting. The Opposition Leader also suggested two names (Gunawardena and energy expert Nimal de Silva). I will either ask them to meet me at the State Ministry or will invite them for the Consultative Committee meeting,” claimed Alagiyawanna in Parliament yesterday.

This was shortly after Premadasa requested a bipartisan select committee to be appointed to investigate the issue, including Gunawardena and Silva.

Gunawardena, speaking to the media recently, has blamed the gas companies for the recent gas cylinder-based explosions in kitchens. He alleged that a dangerous gas composition of 50% butane and 50% propane is being used by the gas companies, which is leading to these increased incidents of gas cylinder-based explosions.

However, as of last afternoon, Gunawardena, who spoke to The Morning, said that he has not received such an invitation. “I will be happy to present my views to the Committee if I am asked to do so,” he added.

Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nihal Thalduwa said yesterday that 19 incidents of LPG cylinder-based explosions, all involving Litro Gas Lanka’s gas cylinders, were reported within the last two days.

Alagiyawanna further said that the State Ministry will also hold discussions with importers of the different equipment related to a gas cylinder, such as the valve and the regulator.

President Rajapaksa also appointed an eight-member committee yesterday to investigate the recent gas cylinder-related incidents. The committee is tasked with finding the possible causes of the incidents and proffering immediate solutions. Chaired by University of Moratuwa Prof. Shantha Walpola, the committee includes Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Deshabandu Tennakoon, University of Moratuwa Prof. Ajith De Alwis, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Prof. W.D.W. Jayatilake and Prof. Pradeep Jayaweera, Sri Lanka Inventors’ Commission Commissioner Prof. Narayana Sirimuthu, Industrial Technology Institute Additional Director General of Technical Services Dr. Sudarshana Somasiri, and Sri Lanka Standards Institute Senior Deputy Director – Technical Sujeewa Mahagama.