The fire mishap in a compressed natural gas-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus on Saturday has raised questions over passenger safety.
The bus, parked in maintenance pit at Prateeksha Nagar depot for repair work caught fire after a CNG leakage. A mechanic, Eknath Mopkar, 44, was trapped in the fire when he tried to move two other buses parked nearby. Mopkar suffered 16% burns and is being treated at Masina Hospital, Byculla.
OP Gupta, BEST general manager said, "During maintenance work, a minor CNG leak was detected in the bus, but instead of bringing the bus in the open the mechanic kept it in a pit where he tried to attend to the leak. The gas got trapped in the pit and when he ignited the engine, the bus caught fire."
The issue came to light when BEST committee members discussed it in the meeting held on Monday. "CNG buses are repeatedly catching fire. Money paid by citizens in the form of taxes is being wasted. The administration needs to probe whether this is a mechanical failure or a lack of maintenance of the buses," said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.
Another committee member suspected that fuel adulteration led to the fire. "CNG is a light weight fuel and dissolves in air. However, if it is adulterated with another fuel, it may cause a fire after being exposed to air," said Sunil Ghancharya. He added that 150 buses are sent for repairs daily and there is not enough staff to attend them.