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Research team to probe NMMT bus that caught fire near Mumbai

The NMMT invited the researchers’ team as they have not been able to ascertain the cause of the fire.

mumbai Updated: Feb 04, 2018 00:55 IST
Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan
Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Navi Mumbai,fire
The bus was going towards Karave from Nerul station when it caught fire at sector 28. (Bachchan Kumar/HT)

After a Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMT) bus caught fire on Thursday evening, a team of researchers from Ashok Leyland, the second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, has landed in the city to examine it.

The bus was going towards Karave from Nerul station when it caught fire at sector 28. While no one was injured, the thirty passengers who were on board had a narrow escape.

The NMMT invited the researchers’ team as they have not been able to ascertain the cause of the fire.

“The fire broke out after one of the tyres exploded. As soon as it was extinguished, our engineers checked the bus, but could not find the root cause. The diesel tank of the bus was intact. There was also no sign of an electric short circuit. Even the batteries did not explode,” said Shirish Aardwad, general manager of NMMT.

“We had purchased that bus from Ashok Leyland. Therefore, their team has come to examine it and find out what happened,” he said.s

The NMMT buses play a very crucial role in terms of transportation in Navi Mumbai. At several parts of the city, these buses are the only mode public transportation.

Presently, the transport authority is running 477 buses, including 82 air-conditioned buses, in a total of 68 routes across the city. On an average they generate revenue of Rs38 lakh every day.

This is not for the first time that an NMMT bus caught fire with passengers on board. An air-conditioned bus owned by them caught fire in Chembur in 2016. All passengers were evacuated in the nick of time.

Activists from the city demand that the transport authority take this incident seriously, to ensure that no commuters have to pay with their lives while travelling in their buses.

“Young people can jump out of a bus when it catches fire. But that is not the case with senior citizens, children and the differently abled people. In case of any delay in the evacuation, they may fall victim to such fires,” said Dasharath Patil, 38, an activist from Sanpada.

“The affluent section of the residents normally travels in their own vehicles. Only the middle-class and lower middle-class opt for public transport. The NMMT should not play with fire by risking these peoples’ lives. They should conduct a comprehensive study of all their buses to ensure that they are fit and fire safe,” he said.

NMMT runs a total of 150 buses on compressed natural gas (CNG). “Such buses need to be more fire safe than the ones that run on diesel. They should also conduct regular workshops to upgrade the skills of the officials,” said Shriram Ghate, 41, another activist from Belapur.

“We have installed fire extinguishers inside all our buses. Even the bus that caught fire also had one. But the fire spread so fast, it because difficult to douse. We also keep conducting training programmes from time to time to enhance the fire-fighting skills of our officials.”

“We are now waiting for the researchers’ team’s report on the bunt bus. Once we understand the reason behind that accident, we will be able take requisite measures, if necessary, for the other buses,” he said.


NMMT to buy 30 non-AC buses

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) has decided to purchase 30 non-AC buses soon. They have set aside a budget of Rs10 crores for them.

“It has been observed that some of the routes in Navi Mumbai are in need of more buses. Therefore, thinking about the convenience of the residents, we have decided to buy 30 non-AC buses,” said Shirish Aradwad, general manager of NMMT.

He said, “Another initiative in this financial year will be introduction of the ladies’ special buses. Ten such ladies special buses will be introduced on selected routes by February.”

The state government has allocated a fund of Rs2.50 crore for purchasing ten buses for carrying only women in the city. The transport authority is now working on this project.

NMMT also claims to have repaired the old buses which had broken seats, leaked roofs and cracked doors. Over 100 such buses have been repaired this year and hence the commuters do not have to face troubles while travelling these buses, another senior official said.

First Published: Feb 04, 2018 00:55 IST