By Dr Alok M Mishra :
WHILE doctors, policemen and others are playing a stellar role in combating the COVID-19 disease and are truly worthy of all respect and applause, there is one organisation that finds little mention in the list of the warriors and is yet readily playing a significant role in the on-going war against corona, and that is, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO). The organisation is entrusted with the task of ensuring the supply of medical Oxygen to literally every patient – no matter how difficult or distant the location is. With a relatively small count of number of officers and a lean organisation structure, PESO is working ceaselessly and tirelessly in issuing new licenses as well as coordinating with all existing manufacturers and suppliers of medical Oxygen in providing the cylinders to every needy in keeping with its battle-cry “O2 for Us too”.
In doing so, the organisation went beyond its ever daunting task of maintaining the safety of petroleum, gases and explosives at all times and made itself available to the new challenges posed by the pandemic. Started in the year 1898 by the British, PESO is now an enterprise run by the Government of India. Initially headquartered in erstwhile Kolkata, today PESO is having its head office in Nagpur but offices in all major capital cities, sub circle offices in Tier-II cities, and a reach across the country.
A one-hundred-and-twentytwo year old veteran, PESO has an enviable record of ensuring public safety through administration of various Acts promulgated by the government in dealing with petrochemicals, hazardous chemicals and substances. The organization has issued 256,000 licenses for operating various hazardous goods and has yet ensured no major untoward incident in a public place anywhere in the country to date. It is also responsible for the safety of refineries, large terminals of petroleum, LPG, and LNG, the extensive network of pipelines, and the millions of isolated storage and dispensing premises spread across the country.
This apart, it also looks after the manufacturing and distribution of firecrackers as well as the entire gamut of explosive raw materials like ammonium nitrate used in various industries and applications. With minds wary of enormous risks and hands full of responsibilities all the time, PESO is using information technology in a big way and probably has the second busiest website for a Government organization after the railways. It is now aiming for full digitalization by the end of this year. Entrusted with a thankless task and fingers ready to point at them on even the smallest incident, PESO is single-mindedly committed to serving the country and its population of over 1.35 billion people. From a hazard veteran to a pandemic warrior, PESO takes pride in shouldering all its responsibilities with aplomb.