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2 low floor DTC buses catch fire, govt orders inquiry
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS)
Published on 12 Dec. 2009 10:53 PM IST
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Two low-floor buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) running on compressed natural gas (CNG) caught fire in separate incidents here Saturday but no one was injured. The government has ordered an inquiry and asked the manufacturer to resolve the problem. Four low-floor CNG buses have caught fire in the capital in the past 17 days. The first incident Saturday took place at 9.20 a.m. near Prahaladpur in south Delhi when a bus plying between the Badarpur border and Gurgaon in Haryana caught fire all of a sudden. The second incident was at around 12 noon near the Akshardham flyover in east Delhi and involved a bus plying on route 355 between Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Karol Bagh in central Delhi. “A strong burning smell emanated and the bus was filled with thick smoke. I took the bus onto the side of the road and stopped. The passengers got out. The front wheels were jammed and one of them was burning,” said the driver of the Noida-Karol Bagh bus. The fire brigade doused the fire. Nobody was injured. The incidents are a setback to Delhi government’s plans of phasing out the privately-owned Blueline buses before the 2020 Commonwealth Games and replacing them with 3,500 low-floor CNG-fuelled buses. The Delhi government has ordered an inquiry into the incidents and asked Tata Motors, which manufactures the buses, to fix the problem. Each low floor DTC bus costs the Delhi government over Rs.50 lakh. Asked about the spurt in such incidents, Transport Commissioner and DTC Chairman R.K. Verma said: “These kind of incidents keep happening and its a mechanical problem.” “There is no need for concern. We have pulled up Tata Motors, the manufacturers of low floor buses, in the matter. We are regularly holding meetings to look into the issue,” Verma told IANS. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed the incidents as unfortunate. “It is very unfortunate and these buses are live bombs. The government should prosecute the companies responsible for these buses and should return them. For new buses, the government should lay down conditions for proper maintenance,” said BJP leader V.K. Malhotra. Automobile expert Tutu Dhawan said the problem can be easily resolved. “The problem lies in their manufacturing. These buses are completely plastic from inside and the interior is made of rexine, which is highly inflammable. The wiring is also faulty and it catching fire is no big deal. It does not involve a complex technology. Engineers should be called in and the problem can be easily solved,” he said. Commuters, who were once happy with the swanky buses, are now angry with the government over the issue. “DTC should immediately be sued. They are virtually playing with the lives of common people. In addition, all the DTC buses should be taken off the roads immediately. In spite of the burgeoning fares, the services are worsening with each passing day,” said Megha Jaiswal, 23, a resident of Mayur Vihar area in east Delhi. Saikat Ganguly, a resident of Badarpur, said: “The dream bus service in Delhi is slowly but surely turning into a death trap. I am not surprised. In India, everything starts with a bang and then fizzles out. But daily bus commuters like me hardly have an alternative option even if that spells death for me. Metro services are not available everywhere at this point in time.”

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