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Another bus catches fire: PMPML under fire from commuters, activists

"Our officials are carrying out a probe into yesterday's fire. Our technical team is verifying it. There was a short-circuit in the wiring system," PMPML Chairman and Managing Director Omprakash Bokaria told this newspaper on Tuesday.

There have been at least 10 incidents in which PMPML buses have caught fire. Express

A DAY after one of its buses caught fire and was partially gutted near Chandani Chowk area of the city, PMPML said it had launched a probe to find out the exact cause behind the incident. At the same time, PMPML said it would also review its policy on doors of buses, which are kept closed when the bus is in motion.

“Our officials are carrying out a probe into yesterday’s fire. Our technical team is verifying it. There was a short-circuit in the wiring system,” PMPML Chairman and Managing Director Omprakash Bokaria told this newspaper on Tuesday.

There were no casaulties as passengers deboarded the bus soon after the driver alerted them. Officials said the blaze started around 7.30 pm on the bus running on CNG near Chandani Chowk area. Fire brigade officials said by the time they reached the spot, the upper portion of the bus was engulfed in flames. “We brought the fire under control within minutes and then conducted cooling operation by spraying water to prevent any secondary fire,” said fire officer Gajanan Paturdkar.

Monday’s fire incident is not the first. Organisations and activists said PMPML buses have caught fire in over 10 incidents. “Every time, PMPML has conducted a probe. No one knows what has come out of the probes. What we know is another fire has taken place,” said activist Lahoo Landge. PMPML authorities, however, said there were different reasons for the various fire accidents. “Investigations have been conducted whenever fire incidents have taken. Each incident had a different reason. In this case, the preliminary report said there was a problem in the wiring. We will find out what went wrong…,” said Bokaria.

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Jugal Rathi, who heads PMP Pravasi Manch, a commuters’ organisation, said, “PMPML should maintain its buses properly. The fire incident reflects badly on it… In case of fire, anything can happen in no time. PMPML will have to be on guard.”

PMPML authorities denied the doors of the bus did not open quickly. Commuters, however, complained that drivers find it difficult to open the doors when a bus halts at stops. “I had a bitter experience recently. When I tried to get down, the driver couldn’t open the door quickly. Luckily, it opened after a while. It seems PMPML is not carrying out regular maintenance of its buses, their doors and other sensitive parts,” said commuter-activist Amol Deshpande.

Rathi too said doors of PMPML buses are not kept in good condition. “All the doors and emergency exits should be maintained in good condition. In case of fire, commuters should be in a position to quickly deboard,” he said.

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Rathi, however said in BRTS lanes, it will be difficult for PMPML to keep the two left side doors open. “In BRTS lane, the right side doors open automatically from where the commuters get down. If the left side doors are kept open, some commuters may try to get down and it may lead to fatal accidents,” he said.

“PMPML will have to carry out regular and strict maintenance of buses and will have to ask officials to submit report to that effect from time to time,” he said.

Deshpande said PMPML should consider the latest fire incident as another warning signal. “PMPML should take all necessary steps to ensure a bigger tragedy does not occur. Running PMPML service has become a sensitive matter given the number of times the buses are catching fire. In the past, commuters have been able to deboard the buses and the fires have been controlled. We cannot say the same will happen every time,” he said.

First published on: 30-11-2022 at 04:46 IST
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