Updated: January 7, 2019 3:06:22 am
After a spate of fires in Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses, a Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus, operating its premium service ‘Shivshahi’, caught fire in Pimpri-Chinchwad on Sunday.
The Shivshahi bus (MH14 GU 2310), operated for the state transport corporation by private contractor Prasanna Purple group, caught fire in Kasarwadi — not far from Saturday’s Metro mishap site at Nashik Phata area — on Sunday morning. There were no passengers in the bus, which was gutted.
While Shivshahi buses are under the scanner for being involved in too many road accidents, this is the first time a bus has caught fire. “There were no passengers in the bus as it was heading from Prasanna Purple’s service centre in Kasarwadi to Shivajinagar. It was scheduled to depart for Shrirampur from Shivajinagar,” said Yamini Joshi, Divisional Controller (Pune), MSRTC.
No clue to fires
First it was PMPML buses, which have in the last two years been plagued by fires. And now a state transport bus went up in flames, once again raising concerns about the safety of passengers. Both transport bodies are monitored by the state government. For long, officials have been blaming the fires on short-circuits. Passengers, however, want to know the exact causes and steps taken to avoid such mishaps. Activists say there is a lack of seriousness among the transport bodies to ensure the safety of passengers.
Officials at Pimpri fire station said they received a call about the fire at 7.03 am. “We were told that a Shivshahi bus had caught fire in Kasarwadi. A fire tender and personnel were dispatched promptly to douse the fire,” said a fire official.
Joshi said that the private contractor has been asked to probe the incident and submit a report to the MSRTC. “They have started an inquiry to ascertain the reason behind the fire. The company provides and operates seven Shivshahi buses for MSRTC’s Pune division,” said Joshi.
Although this is the first such incident involving a Shivshahi bus in Pune region, buses with the city’s transport utility have been in the news following a series of fires in the last one and a half years. According to statistics, in the last 18 months as many as 19 buses owned or operated by PMPML have caught fire.
The transport utility had set up a fact-finding committee comprising PMPML and RTO officials to probe the cases. The committee had cited “technical problems” with CNG buses. PMPML has also asked the Central Institute of Road Transport to conduct a fire audit, which is yet to happen.
Shivshahi buses, which were introduced about one and a half years ago by MSRTC pitching them as affordable and comfortable, have invited public anger for the high number of accidents involving them.
There are a total 998 Shivshahi buses in MSRTC’s fleet, of which 498 are operated by private contractors and 500 are owned and operated by the transport body.
According to MSRTC, in all 240 accidents have taken place between July 2017, when the Shivshahi service was launched, and July 2018. Of these, 84 accidents involved contractual buses with 22 passengers losing their lives and 291 being injured.
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