Observing that a proper and effective mechanism has been put in place for the safety of LPG Cylinder delivery boys, the Madras High Court recently required that the managements of Oil Corporations shall also cause periodical inspections and surprise inspections to ensure compliance with the provision of safety gears such as masks, sanitisers etc., and shall also follow it up properly at regular intervals.
The Court hearing the plea of the Tamil Nadu LPG Cylinder Deliveryman's Employees Union that despite the serious outbreak of COVID-19 in this country, the respondent-Oil Companies and their distributors/Agencies are not taking any effective steps to provide the deliverymen with necessary preventive measures such as N95 Safety Masks, gloves, sanitisers etc. Further, it was pleaded that in the event of demise, there must be a proper Insurance coverage by paying a sum of Rs.25 Lakhs to the family of the person who may die on account of the said virus.
It was the stand of the Union of India and the other respondents that necessary instructions/advisories have been issued to all the distributors and also to be followed by the delivery boys while making refill delivery and that apart, the distributors have also provided masks, gloves and sanitisers to all the delivery staff. It was further stated that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has also announced Ex-gratia of Rs.5 Lakhs to the kith and kin of the deliveryman in the event of unfortuate demise due to COVID-19 while making deliveries and that apart, Insurance coverage of Rs.1 Lakh towards treatment of delivery boys who may be infected by the said disease is also declared.
It was also advanced that each and every LPG Distributor enters into an agreement with the respective Oil Corporations termed as ''Indane'' [Liquified Petroleum Gas] Distributorship [Domestic and Commercial] Agreement and clauses of the said Agreement deals with all eventualities and since proper and effective measures have also been put in place, prays for dismissal of the writ petition.
The petitioner had countered that the said effective and preventive measures have not been put in practice and the sums of Rs.5 Lakhs and Rs.1 lakh is only a pittance when compared to the hardships undergone by the delivery boys.
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