Third fire incident in DTC low-floor bus fleet raises safety concerns
04 Dec 2009
Another low-floor Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC bus caught fire on Thursday making it the third such incident this week.
Though no one has been hurt questions about the safety of the new CNG bus fleet, delivery of which had been delayed due to design changes that Tata Motors wanted to carry out to make the buses 'more fire-retardant' have been raised again. It was in March last year after a DTC bus caught fire that safety concerns about the buses had first come to the fore.
According to a senior police officer, in the latest incident the driver's presence of mind helped avert a major tragedy.
The bus had been travelling on Najafgarh Road when there was a loud sound immediately following which all systems inside the bus stopped working. The bus doors too had jammed and could not be opened. The driver of the bus climbed out of his cabin and opened the doors from the outside. Though the fire had started in one of the rear wheels, by the time the fire tenders reached the bus 15 to 20 minutes later, the bus was completely gutted.
The government of Delhi called an emergency meeting of bus and tyre manufacturers and levied a penalty on Tata Motors, which has been issued a ultimatum to ensure safe operation of the buses. The company has also been asked to make a replacement for the gutted bus and additionally a slew of measures has been initiated to fix the problem.
According to Naresh Kumar, DTC CMD, the fire was not related to the CNG kit rather it was caused by a technical snag in the break shoe. According to the police, prima facie a short-circuit might have triggered the blast.
With the increasing frequency of such incidents some very serious passenger safety concerns are being voiced. The new fleet is being maintained by the manufacturer and DTC is paying around Rs50 lakh as AMC (annual maintenance contract) per bus for a 12-year period which works out to the cost of the bus.