Government CNG bus goes up in flames in Chennai

The incident occurred around 2pm when the Kelambakkam-bound bus from Broadway (102 cut) was moving on LB Road in Adyar.
The bus was completely gutted by the fire. Ten passengers had a narrow escape
The bus was completely gutted by the fire. Ten passengers had a narrow escape(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: An MTC bus that was recently converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) instead of diesel for a pilot study went up in flames on Tuesday. There were 10 commuters on board but no one was injured. The bus was completely destroyed by the fire.

The incident occurred around 2pm when the Kelambakkam-bound bus from Broadway (102 cut) was moving on LB Road in Adyar. The driver halted the vehicle about 200 metres before the Adyar bus stop after noticing smoke emanating from the gearbox.

He immediately alerted and evacuated the commuters. Within minutes, the gearbox and fuel tank caught fire, and the whole bus was ablaze. Fire services personnel rushed to the scene and doused the fire. As a precaution, police evacuated staff from nearby commercial establishments on LB Road.

Officials said the bus, a BS IV-type one with old body, was renovated recently and converted to run on CNG for the pilot study. The CNG kit conversion was carried out by Chennai Gas Station Company with support from Torrent Gas Private Limited.

The bus has been in operation since July 27. Alby John Varghese, Managing Director of MTC, told TNIE, “The cause of the accident is being investigated by the technical team of MTC as well as the private company.”

Some converted cars caught fire in Coimbatore

“Only after the completion of the inquiry will we know the root cause of the accident,” the MD said.

He clarified that the conversion to CNG was done by an authorised gas station. Two MTC buses retrofitted with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) have been running on the West Saidapet-Sriperumbudur (553W) routes for a pilot study since June 13.

Last month, the transport department cautioned against converting diesel and petrol-powered vehicles to CNG or LPG at non-accredited garages. This advisory followed a few incidents in Coimbatore and other places where cars caught fire while being driven.

Investigations revealed that foreign materials found on the conversion kits had led to these fire accidents. Meanwhile, AIADMK general secretary and Leader of the Opposition, Edappadi K Palaniswami, claimed that the incident was a result of delays in procuring new buses. He urged the government to conduct quality checks on all buses currently in use to ensure the safety of commuters. Palaniswami also commended the bus crew’s timely response, which saved the lives of the passengers.

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