The half a dozen incidents of cars catching fire while in motion reported over recent months, has raised serious concerns in the Tricity. In two such incidents, in Chandigarh and Panchkula, two human lives were lost in the last 48 hours.
Though the investigation agencies are yet to conclude the exact reason behind the mishaps, automobile experts claim that tampering with the original designs, modification against the foundations of the vehicle and installation of gas kits in improper manner were among the main reasons behind such mishaps. Experts maintained that automatic central locking can also be a reason behind casualties to an extent as victims are not able to come out of the damaged vehicles as the automatic system fails.
Kuldeep Singh, a former technical head with leading automobiles Tata Jaguar, said, “In 95 per cent of such cases, the damaged vehicles had been modified at least once. The original structures were tampered with, against the inbuilt design. This can be done to any parts, including the car’s AC, installation of music system and CNG kits, among others. Recently, a Punjab police officer’s car caught fire near Kiratpur Sahib. Luckily, nobody was hurt. The officer brought the car to me for repair. He had got the car’s AC system repaired earlier from somewhere. I concluded that the mechanic had attached a wire with an AC compressor beneath the car’s fan (air intake), which was against the design. As the engine heated up, the wire sparked and caused damage.” Kuldeep Singh runs his automobile repair garage in Mohali.
Automobile mechanic at Sector 28 motor market, Parwinder Singh said, “Why are such incidents increasing in the recent years? A decade back, we hardly heard about such mishaps. The reasons are useless modifications, tempering with original structures, use of cheap materials and thin wires by untrained mechanics. A person should always get their vehicles repaired and serviced from a trusted, qualified and expert mechanic instead of unskilled ones. Possibility of getting stuck inside the car due to central locking after accidents is also always there.”
A police officer said, “We register FIRs and launch police investigations whenever stationed cars catch fire. In various cases, there are CCTV footages showing unidentified persons setting vehicles on fire. Such incidents are different from cases when moving vehicles catch fire. In such cases, technical snags are found to be responsible.”
Sudhir Singla, mechanical head with a leading automobile agency at Industrial Area, said, “Loose wires which are not properly tapped or tapped with cheap quality material are also one of the reasons behind such mishaps. People, especially youths want all kinds of modifications. Big buffers are installed in the cars with LED lightings and long wires. It is risky.”
Friday morning, a 17-year-old Gurdaspur resident Akashdeep charred to death and two others were injured as their car collided with another car at the dividing road of Sector 28, 29 and Industrial Area, resulting in the leak of a CNG kit which had been fixed in the car’s boot and the eventual fire. The CNG kit in the car was not inbuilt.
In another incident, a man died as his car caught fire on Panchkula-Yamunanagar highway Friday. A moving BMW had caught fire all of sudden near Sector 46/47 dividing road on October 27. The driver had jumped out of the car and saved himself. On October 2, a man was found charred to death in his car on Morni road in Panchkula .
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