Tamil Nadu: Cars go up in flames, advisory issued against fuel conversion kits

Officials from the transport department emphasised that such kits should be installed only after undergoing mandatory tests by ARAI.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

CHENNAI: In the wake of recent incidents where stationary and moving cars went up in flames across the state, the transport department has cautioned against converting the fuel intake of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or LPG at unapproved centres. In an advisory issued on Tuesday, transport and road safety commissioner A Shanmuga Sundaram urged motorists to get the conversion done only at government-approved facilities.

An analysis of vehicle fire accidents revealed that unauthorised fitting of CNG/LPG kits by third party or non-accredited institutions emerged as one of the key causes of the incidents, said Sundaram.

Officials from the transport department emphasised that such kits should be installed only after undergoing mandatory tests by ARAI. Additionally, the compatibility of the kit with the vehicle must be assessed.

The fire and rescue services department had recently alerted the transport department to incidents where light motor vehicles caught fire while parked or in transit. Subsequent inquiries revealed that many of these vehicles had recently undergone CNG conversion.

The state government has ceased granting permits for diesel-powered auto rickshaws since January 1, 2015, leading to a significant number of them being converted to CNG to obtain permits. These conversions are carried out only at authorised centres and are recorded in their registration certificates (RC) at the respective RTOs. However, vehicles like cars and bikes are also being converted and often go unrecorded in the RC.

“In the Coimbatore fire accident incident, the vehicle owner can claim damages only if the conversion is updated in the RC. Similarly, in cases of collision accidents, insurance companies may decline to pay compensation if the fuel type differed from what is mentioned in the RC, although it may not be a contributing factor to the accident,” advocate Suresh Souli said.

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